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Student Spotlight

Sheri Cook, MDS Graduate

Student Spotlight:  Sheri Cook, MDS Graduate

How did you find the MDS program?

I came across MDS quite by accident – I called BSU’s Center for Professional Development, as I wanted to take their Leadership courses. The woman I spoke to directed me to the MDS program. I was fortunate to reach Rebecca when I called the office. She was wonderful, enthusiastic, and gave me hope I had been missing for a while.

Why did you choose MDS?

MDS was the fastest way for me to complete my degree, and offered flexibility that my previous major did not. I was essentially able to tailor my courses to the things I am passionate about – leadership and dispute resolution – and earn two certificates in conjunction with my degree. I love the flexibility of online and in-person classes. MDS has offered better advising, greater flexibility, and stronger support than any other degree path I researched.

How would you say that MDS is different from other degree programs?

How is MDS not different? I am unaware of any other undergraduate degree programs who work so hard to make flexible options available to students like me – students returning to school after an absence, students who have previously-earned credits, students who probably have several other balls to juggle at the same time as classes.

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

I am 40 years old, and have completely hit a wall in my career. I cannot advance without a bachelors degree, and I am not willing to stay in the same position (or a different lateral position) for the next 30 years. In addition, I have four children. Only one of the 4 enjoys school, but I fear that none of them will be able to function in the world on their own without a degree. I need them to see that it is possible, it is achievable, and that even their mom can do it.

What are your plans after you complete the MDS degree?

After graduation, I plan to continue at BSU in the Graduate College, pursuing a Masters of Public Administration degree, as well as a graduate certificate in conflict management. I plan to continue working where I am, until/unless something amazing and exciting presents itself. I have worked at the same company for over 18 years, and I realize that I may have to leave to find new challenges. We’ll see.

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

I have taken courses both online and on campus. I like them both. I especially like the flexibility of online courses. I have found instructors to be knowledgeable and easy to reach, which also helps immensely.

What are you passionate about? How have you been able to incorporate your passions into your degree?

I am passionate about people. I believe that every person holds potential – everyone has their own strengths and has the potential for greatness. I think that focusing on those strengths and providing opportunities for success makes it easier to work on areas that are less strong, as well as creating thoughtful, happy people. It really applies to every aspect of life, and it means more than anything to me when I can be a support to someone’s success. I love my leadership courses because I want to be that supportive person who equips others to succeed.

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

Do it. It won’t be easy, and some days you’ll feel so overwhelmed you think it will never end. But there are moments – periods of time – that are so fulfilling, so rewarding, that you’ll never want to stop. You can do this. And when you reach your last semester, when the end is so close you can feel it, you will look back and be grateful for each person who helped and supported you, each opportunity you had to learn and grow, and each moment of hard work, endurance, and perseverance that brought you to this stage.

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

My greatest challenge was speeding up my graduation date, and taking a full-time course load for my final 3 semesters. I had been successfully completing 6-9 credits each semester for over a year and felt I could handle it, but about mid-way through that first full-time semester, I nearly had a meltdown and quit altogether. My husband is amazing and has been so incredibly supportive. He told me he’d be really mad at me if I didn’t finish now after all the work and time invested. He really balances me, and I’m not sure where I’d be without him.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I guess I don’t find myself a particularly surprising person, but others are sometimes surprised that I’m Basque, that I play co-ed Sunday softball, and that I have a strange passion/addiction for yarn (I love to knit and crochet, and shopping for yarn is the only type of shopping I really enjoy).

What extracurricular activities were you involved in?

I work a full-time job, married to my best friend, mother of 4 – my extracurricular activities have pretty much been off-campus. Well, except for Bronco football. I have really enjoyed having student tickets!

Did you complete an internship as part of your degree?

I did participate in one internship credit. I was a TA for LEAD 327 the semester after I completed the course. I was able to create and teach lessons, facilitate groups, and learn a different side of academia. I loved it.