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Director returns to college to finish bachelor’s in management
City University of Seattle student Rebecca Monaghan has had a longtime dream of finishing her bachelor’s degree, and at 53, she’s finally doing it.
She earned her associate degree and completed one year of undergraduate studies when she was in her 20s. When her marriage ended, she made the difficult decision to leave college so she could provide for herself and her two boys. Now, years later, she’s finishing what she started.
“My goal with going back to school was that I hadn’t completed earlier because I needed to raise my kids and work, and I wanted to finish,” Rebecca said. “I’ve always wanted to get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees.”
Leveraging restaurant management experience in the classroom
When she left school, Rebecca started a career in the restaurant and hospitality industry and worked her way up from a server to a general manager. After 27 years of working with Anthony’s Restaurant Group, she’s now the director of food and beverage at Lynnwood Convention Center.
“I attended several outside [professional development] classes and was introduced to CityU outside of Boeing,” Rebecca said. “A woman recommended I look at CityU because of my experience in the [management] field and already having some [academic] credit.”
Rebecca is now well into the Bachelor of Arts in Management program and is looking forward to graduating in June 2018.
“I’ve been in management and was already a general manager, but there were pieces that were difficult because I’d never had a degree,” Rebecca said. “I needed to refine my skills. I’ve learned things like human resources, business efficiency and project management, and they have given me a different perspective.”
Rebecca has taken a mix of in-person and online classes during her program, and she sees the opportunity to study with fellow working adults as an advantage.
It’s enjoyable going to school with people your own age, working professionals, who are similar with children at home or ones that recently left,” Rebecca said. “We can relate on a lot of different levels. There are some students I’ve taken multiple classes with, and there is a bond there, and there is a desire to learn and get something out of the coursework.”
She says the diversity of work experiences people bring with them into the classroom enriches the learning environment.
“Most of the folks I go to school with are Boeing employees, and I’m one of the only people in hospitality,” Rebecca said. “They’re managers of their departments and of different employees. It adds a lot to what we’re studying.”
She is also planning to use her professional experience to challenge a couple of courses for prior learning credit.
“One of the attractive factors is that I can challenge classes on marketing and communications because I have a lot of experience in those areas,” Rebecca said. “I am going to work with faculty on accomplishing that.”
She says her experiences with faculty and staff have been overwhelmingly positive.
“When I started, it was 20 years since I’d last been in school, and they made it seamless,” Rebecca said. “Not only me, but for all the students up there. As we have children and aging parents, they understand the struggles and can communicate about that.”
As she looks ahead toward graduation, she’s already making plans to continue her academic journey and enroll in a master’s degree program.
“I want to go back into the arts and possibly look at nonprofit management or museum curation,” Rebecca said. “Even though CityU doesn’t have an arts program, they’ve encouraged me to finish the bachelor’s and then go onto the master’s. Every day is an inspiration going up to the [Everett] campus, they’re really encouraging of continuing that education.”