Amy Pilcher

Pilcher heads back for advanced degree

Amy Pilcher never thought she’d consider herself a researcher. After years of doing administrative work with Iowa State University, she decided to go back to school and work toward an advanced degree.

“At the time I started this program, I worked with Iowa State,” she said. “It was convenient as an employee, and I was hoping to be promoted in the department that I worked in at the time. Getting more education was one of the things that was going to be required for that promotion, so I decided to come back.”

Being back in the classroom, Amy began researching topics that stemmed from personal experience and interest – online learning communities.

“I actually prefer it [online learning] as a learning medium myself,” she said. “I do better in an online learning environment than in a traditional face-to-face classroom. I appreciate the flexibility of it, and I’ve always been an adult learner. When I started my undergraduate work I was married with children, so taking classes online gave me the opportunity to do my coursework while the kids were napping. It just made it easier for me to go back and get my degree when I wanted to and when I was able.”

Even with her time and exposure in administration, Amy continues learning more about the complete backside of administrative work in online communities.

“Using the principles of learning communities in the online programs or classes is a very interesting thing to me,” she said. “I have a long administrative background with budgeting and things like that so the actual pedagogy isn’t something I came into this program with a lot of background knowledge in. To be focusing more on that background instead of just the management and financial aspect of online learning has really given me the broad understanding of all aspects of online learning.”

With a pending degree completion and graduation in August 2017, Amy wants to share some advice for those looking at going back to school and to those who are working on finishing their programs.

“I have never regretted getting an education,” she said. “There are times when I have had a heavy workload, and I’ve wished I didn’t have homework to do. I’m ready to have it all done and over with – that’s my advice. Get in there and get it done. I talk to a lot of students who drag it out and who let it languish, and it just runs their life. Don’t do that. Just power through and keep going. It’s going to suck at times but just push through.”