Maria Latinville graduated from Champlain College Online (CCO) with her master’s in Human Relations & Organization Development in May 2019. She currently works at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH) - part of The University of Vermont Health Network (UVMHN) - as an Employee Development Manager and enrolled at Champlain by way of her company’s partnership within Champlain’s truED Alliance.
What was your motivation for going back to school?
I'm a CVPH employee and used to serve the organization as an Employee Development Specialist. Essentially, my role was centered around guiding employees in their career development journeys. As part of UVMHN, CVPH has demonstrated that the continuous lifelong learning, growth, and development of its people is a priority of the organization. As an employee, I have access to education funds that I can utilize at many higher education institutions that have agreements with UVMHN. It was my responsibility to share these options with other CVPH employees to inform them of these educational benefits and help coach them through the career growth process.
Watching many of my fellow colleagues balance their jobs with their families and going back to school really impressed and motivated me. Obtaining a master’s degree was always a personal goal of mine and seeing others make it happen inspired me to figure out a way to make it work too. The only caveat was that I didn’t know what I wanted to earn a graduate degree in. My main concern was finding a degree program that was practical in nature in the sense that it would aid my career development and align with the goals of my organization. The stars aligned for me when I found Champlain.
What made you choose Champlain?
I chose CCO’s truED Program not only because of CVPH’s partnership with them, but more so because I fell in love with their master’s degree in Human Relations & Organization Development (HROD). The curriculum for this program was the first one I had seen where the content appeared to be in direct alignment with my organization's goals, the work I was doing as an Employee Development Specialist, and the direction my career was headed in.
The course content matched where I was in my career and life at the time, and my decision to enroll in the program was immediately validated. As I completed homework assignments and progressed through lectures, I was stunned to see how easily I could apply the nature of my career back into my coursework – and vice versa – with such a direct connection.
Tell us about your experience with your instructors.
All of my professors were really wonderful teachers and leaders throughout the length of my program. Beyond their leadership as faculty members, it’s worth noting that they actually became my unofficial life coaches. Every instructor I had offered open office hours and encouraged me to reach out if I needed support, guidance, or simply wanted to chat. I took advantage of these opportunities as often as I needed and ended up receiving some free life and career advice from some of the best subject matter experts I’ve ever met firsthand. It was truly an honor to be able to not only learn from CCO’s instructors but also network with them so I could tap into their unique perspectives on life and the human resources industry.
I’d like to give a special shoutout to Shelly Masson, an instructor I had for a few classes in my HROD program. Shelly was actually a consultant for UVMHN, so I had the fortunate opportunity to meet her in person at one point. It was such a pleasure to put a face to the name!
What, in your opinion, makes Champlain unique?
I believe Champlain is unique mainly because of how well their courses and programs are tailored and catered to the working professional. Being an adult learner with professional responsibilities and familial commitments is a constant balancing act. However, CCO’s programs are designed with the busy professional in mind and I really appreciated how well-paced and organized my courses were. I never had a sense that Champlain didn’t understand my busy schedule. Rather, it felt like as a community, CCO “just got it” and knew how to tailor the program to fit my needs.
I also feel that the structure of the classes is unique in the sense that it was super realistic to take one course at a time in eight-week sessions. The timeline made it possible for me to keep my course load manageable so I could continue moving forward and stay on pace to graduate.
What impact do you envision your degree having on your long-term career path?
Since graduating, I’ve been promoted from Employee Development Specialist to Employee Development Manager. My master’s degree in HROD is the reason why I’ve advanced my career and continue to move forward. I absolutely credit my career success to my education. I believe CVPH's leaders know that I am committed to my career growth and professional development with the intention to increase my capacity to serve our people, patients, and community. Earning my graduate degree has been proof of my commitment to move forward.
The knowledge I gained in my program has been directly applicable to the work I have done in the past at CVPH and also the work I continue to do as I transition into new territory. While my role historically has been boxed in as a singular role specific to CVPH, I’m currently in a state of change as I’m providing regional support to multiple affiliates within our network. The knowledge and expertise I’ve gained on the job and in my time at Champlain have made this big transition possible for me and I am so grateful for it.
What advice would you give to someone considering going back to school at Champlain?
For anyone considering going back to school at Champlain, don’t think too long or hard about it. Just do it! If there’s a program you’ve researched that speaks to you and you’re certain it’s going to help you grow personally and professionally, don’t overthink it – just apply.
I signed up for the HROD program and it felt like in the blink of an eye it was over. While it may not feel quite that fast as you progress through the program in the moment, I guarantee it will fly by. I didn’t over-contemplate the process and neither should you. Just go for it like I did! You won’t regret it.
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