A few years ago, Benedictine University felt there was a need for a program at their Moser College of Adult and Professional Studies for a program just for women, and asked Tanesha Pittman to create one. From there, she developed a one-of-a-kind master’s degree.
“It is very specific for women and it’s very specific to the needs that have been identified in order for women to be successful in the workforce,” said Pittman, Executive Director of the Women’s Institute for Global Leadership.
The program officially launched last June. The classes meet on weekends every couple of weeks. In between the students do coursework online. The non-traditional schedule gives the students, working professionals of all ages and fields, a chance to both work and learn.
“All the other programs were very traditional and I knew I wanted then to continue, but this could really help me in my career path so I really felt that it was a perfect fit,” said Dana Wright, a student.
The two-year program empowers women to lead, starting in the classroom. Instead of sitting through long lectures, these women take charge of their own learning and use their own backgrounds and experiences as examples in class.
“What they teach us is that we are all leaders,” said Jacqueline Burns, a student. “A lot of women don’t realize that. For me as a woman working in a male dominated department, it’s kind of hard to shine sometimes and to get your point across.”
Students go through the courses in tight-knit groups. The program doesn’t create a competition with men. Instead it helps women value who they are and what they have to contribute.
“This program has taught me to be a change agent,” said Burns. “It has taught me how to work with diverse teams.”
“Not only are we learning but we are spreading our wings and getting out there all over the place and just being a part of something bigger than we ever expected,” said Wright.
At the end of the program, the graduates receive a Master of Science in Leadership, and much more.
“They walk away with confidence,” said Pittman. “They walk away knowing who they are. That is the expectation and if that’s not occurring, then we failed because that should be occurring.”
Pittman hopes that when students graduate, they feel the program was a transformational experience. In May, 16 students will make up the program’s first graduating class.
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