Dawn Driskell
Dawn Driskell

You’re juggling the demands of a full-time job and a family. You also need to somehow carve out time to complete a bachelor’s degree to advance in your career and your life. It’s a dilemma faced by many, but Spalding University’s FLEX program offers a convenient solution for today’s workers. “It’s a program that’s meant to be a complement to your working life,” said Katherine Walker-Payne, director of academic support at Spalding.

FLEX classes are offered in six-week sessions of evening or online classes. “Somebody who works a traditional 8-to-5 work day can attend class either on campus or online without disruption to their daily work schedule,” said Payne.

Adult education pioneer

In 1980, Spalding was the first university in the region to offer degrees tailored to working professionals and adults returning to college.  “We try to make sure content and the way classes are delivered is relevant, so students can go to class one night, learn it and apply it the next day,” said Payne.

Dawn Driskell, 36, who completed a double major of Business Administration and Accounting in 2013, said she did find that immediate connection between her academic and work lives. “As I went through the program, I was able to integrate my work into my school work to better understand some of the processes and techniques we were learning.”

Driskell, who is married with two young children, said the things she liked best about the program were the small classes and real-world instructors.  “I really liked having professors working in the field so you had the most current information. For example, my HR instructor was a human resources manager at a big company in the city. I value that greatly,” Driskell said.

As an 18-year employee with Kentucky Center for the Arts, Driskell, 36, now holds the position of Controller and Director of Accounting. Driskell acknowledges juggling a family, work and school wasn’t always easy. “It was tough but worth it. Spalding is a wonderful place to learn, with a great atmosphere, and is very supportive of its students.”

Returning to school

Shena Allen-Thompson

It’s that encouragement that has made the difference for Shena Allen-Thompson, 40. A mother of a two-year old son, Thompson completed her bachelor’s in business last year. She decided to continue at Spalding and is now in the Master of Science in Business Communication program. As a student who was returning to the classroom after 15 years away, Thompson said it took some time to get reacclimated. “I appreciated the Spalding culture and how responsive the staff was there. I rediscovered my love for learning,” she said.

The individualized attention was key for Thompson. “It’s small and personal with each student, and I love it. The teachers are so engaged in their jobs. If you have questions they do anything they can to assist. Coming from a customer service background, that means a lot.”

Payne said the student to professor ratio is intentionally small, and students get personalized assistance from academic advisors to figure out their most efficient path to completion in a way that’s comfortable for them. “It’s very hands-on. Students like to know somebody is looking out for them and shepherding them through their program.”

Walker-Payne said she believes that FLEX is a program with both breadth and depth. “We provide a solid liberal arts education for our students to help them develop the ability to think critically and how to communicate in the workplace. That makes you a well-rounded, educated person. But in our major courses, we also give them the most current information to make them marketable and prepared as they go out in their careers.”

As a Provider Engagement Consultant with Humana, Shena Thompson said she hopes to advance into management when she completes her Masters, which has an emphasis on organizational leadership. Currently, her role is virtual so she works from home, but she said she hopes one day to assume a leadership role where she can work directly with people.

Walker-Payne said she sees FLEX program students as a diverse community of learners. “They’re focused and have a strong sense of purpose. I feel like we are meeting needs of learners as well as meeting the needs of the times.”

For more information about Spalding University programs, click here.

Spalding University
Spalding University is the home for students who want to earn a degree while engaging and serving the community. We put compassion in action every day with our mission-driven focus. We volunteer, teach, advocate, organize and give. Our students are active in the community, using their Spalding education to make the world better. We are a diverse community with a core commitment to inclusion, and we value our students, faculty and staff from all walks of life.