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Where Are They Now?

Sunny Shaw, MDS Graduate

Sunny Shaw Photo

Sunny graduated from the MDS program in 2016. She is currently working as the Executive Director at The Housing Authority of the City of Pocatello.

How did you find the MDS Degree?

I initially applied to the College of Business. While speaking with the advisor in that department, she shared that it was disappointing that I would lose so many of my previous credits earned in that department. She wondered if I had considered MDS. I hadn’t, simply because I hadn’t heard of it. She made an appointment for me with Alexis and the rest is history.

Why is it important for you to finish what you started?

The primary reason is for that sense of accomplishment. Not finishing my degree has, quite frankly, always made me feel like I let myself down. That will soon change! The second reason is for my career. I am one of the “lucky ones” to have advanced as far as I have without a degree. It’s not really heard of in my profession. My hope is to add my education to my experience and utilize them to have an even larger impact on the communities I serve.

What are your plans after you complete the MDS degree?

Without question I will remain in the affordable housing industry. However, should the opportunity arise, I would consider moving to a larger housing authority. That won’t be possible without my degree. Having my degree will also lend to greater credibility as I pursue community changing partnerships and endeavors.

In the little bit of spare time you have, what are you passionate about? Where do you find yourself spending your time?

I am passionate about what I do, housing and working to fight poverty through changing community. I believe education is key to ending the cycle of poverty and am working on introducing programs in our community that will impact that cycle. When I am not working, or brainstorming about ideas for work, I am usually reading about income inequality and how great leaders create change. I also travel across the country frequently, learning and being inspired by my housing colleagues.

What fun activities do you like to participate in?

I have an amazing family and network of friends. We like to go four wheeling, snowmobiling, camping, and we are football nuts (go Broncos). I like to “hang out” and laugh. I have the most amazing brat dog that helps keep it all real.

What advice can you give to a current or future MDS student?

Go for it!! Create your plan and stick with it. Make sure that you work to create balance. Because I have such a hectic work schedule, it would be easy to let school consume the rest of my time. It’s important to remember that you want your family and friends to still be around when you are DONE with school so create balance by making time for them, as well.

Do you take courses on campus or online? If online, do you like the online program?

Online! I absolutely LOVE the online program. I wouldn’t be able to finish my degree if it weren’t for online. I work an average of 50 hours a week. Add to that the fact that I am a commuter. I work 2 hours from my home. Time just wouldn’t allow for me to attend class in person. Don’t be fooled, the pace and workload for online classes is every bit as challenging as any class I have taken in person. Sometimes, it’s actually more challenging. The caveat is that I can do my classwork at 11 at night if that’s what works best for my schedule. The fact that BSU has begun to move to online allows me to graduate from a respected college as opposed to one of the online schools that have been such a craze.

What was/is your greatest challenge during the MDS program and how did you overcome it?

Balance. I have a ‘roll up my sleeves and get to it’ mentality. It is really easy for me to block out the world and just focus on the task at hand. I had to be really aware of the cues of my family and friends. It is important to take time out for your relationships and not have blinders on in regards to those relationships. Balance has been my biggest challenge.

How would you say MDS is different?

MDS is life changing! I was able to have all of my previously earned credits accepted. This is HUGE. It probably saved me an extra year of school. The thing, however, that is most different about MDS is that I am able to tailor my degree to fit my needs. My degree has three facets to it: the people I serve, business management, and leadership/advocacy. I am taking classes that will strengthen my skill in each of these areas (sociology, psychology, addictions, business, marketing, leadership, etc…) which truly makes it an Affordable Housing CEO degree.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Colleagues are surprised to learn that I don’t have a degree. People that just met me would be surprised to know that I am the incoming Regional President (Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho) of our professional organization and that I serve on multiple national housing committees.

Where is your favorite study spot?

My husband calls it the princess tower. The upstairs of our house is home to my office. It has the study essentials… desk, chair, lights, but it also has the things I love and that make me feel at peace. My home office sets the frame of mind to focus and work hard.

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