Skip to main content

Online Grad Finds Her Passion at NC State

Miranda Parks Completes Master of Youth, Family and Community Sciences Degree Program

Miranda Parks
Recent NC State graduate, Miranda Parks, plans to celebrate reaching her academic goals with friends after attending the departmental graduation ceremony in December 2023.

Written by Debbie Willmschen.

After earning an undergraduate degree from UNC Greensboro, Miranda Parks began looking for a job position that ignited her passion. In her undergraduate work, Parks received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy as well as a pre-law concentration and two minors, in Sociology and Human Development as well as Family Studies. She felt she had a good foundational start but also felt she needed more.

“As I started my job search after college, I sensed I was missing something in order to be satisfied with my career,” Parks explained. “I began researching various master’s programs for different areas that I found of interest, such as social work, marriage and family counseling, and sociology.”

In her exploration of different programs, Parks learned about the NC State Online Master of Youth, Family and Community Sciences (YFCS) degree program. This program represents a rapidly growing field of research and practice. Demand for professionals to teach and create supportive systems for families is arising from government leaders, community agencies, court systems, through prisons, social service organizations, religious organizations, schools, and communities.

“When I learned about the program at NC State, I was hooked,” Parks said. “The program offered me courses that aligned with so many of my interests, and it also offered online options so I could continue my normal routines. In fact, the program checked off boxes I didn’t even know I had!”

Parks had been out of school for about a year when she enrolled in the YFCS program and felt a little nervous about getting back into a study routine. She learned, however, that the faculty and staff at NC State were willing to work with her to make her experience as positive and successful as possible.

“My professors that first semester welcomed me with open arms and made me feel accomplished just for even beginning the journey,” Parks said. “And all my professors since then have done the same for me! I am very grateful to have had their support along the way.”

Over time, Parks found the structure of the program built her self-assurance as well as provided a good foundation for her educational journey.

“One aspect of the program that greatly enhanced my personal experience was the fact that class sizes were small,” Parks said. “On average I had about 10-15 students in my classes, and my internship course had only one other student. Such a reduced class size was instrumental in helping me gain confidence to speak in front of others and be more assertive in sharing my thoughts and ideas. My professors’ confidence in me helped achieve that same goal.”

“NC State has been my number one educational experience. Never before have I felt so immersed in my coursework, connected with my professors and peers, and confident in the work I do both in and out of the classroom. Go Pack!

The NC State Online program was a unique experience for Parks, and it’s one that she’s glad she took a chance on! She is especially grateful for the influence of her professors on her professional aspirations.

“I like that I was able to immerse myself in topics that I had a significant interest in and that I wanted to gain more knowledge about,” Parks explained. “I specifically enjoyed courses with Assistant Professor Jamie Alexander and Professor Jay Jayaratne. Dr. Alexander’s course sparked my interest in parent education. In her course, we had the opportunity to explore different parenting programs and, essentially, design and deliver a program of our own. I thought the hands-on aspect of this project was fantastic! Dr. Jay also thrives on the success of his students, and his course proved to be greatly impactful on my career interests. Finally, my advisor, Graduate Certificate Coordinator Jessica Williams, was also an excellent and extremely resourceful contact and continues to be — especially now as I find myself on the job hunt once again!”

As coordinator for the program, Williams appreciates Parks’ willingness to work hard to improve her professional development.

“Miranda Parks has been a dedicated and passionate student during her time in the YFCS program,” Williams added. “Her commitment to the youth and families of her communities is a testament to the difference she strives to make. We can’t wait to see the positive changes that will come of it.”

Looking back on her time with NC State, Parks definitely recommends the YFCS program to any working professional interested in seeking this set of skills to further their educational journey.

“Being online was a game-changer in the way of helping me achieve such balance,” Parks said. “I remember back to my undergraduate days feeling extremely stressed and stretched thin because I was going back and forth between school and work. But that worry was eliminated with an online program. Thus far, my degree has already allowed me to interview with many companies that I would not have been able to prior to earning my master’s degree. This program goes above and beyond in terms of being flexible and accommodating as well as stimulating and engaging.”

Looking ahead, Parks is excited about what the future might hold.

“I feel that this master’s degree, alone, is a great resume booster,” Parks said. “Aside from that, I believe that the skills and knowledge I gained throughout this program set me apart in the workforce. Having in-depth knowledge about relationships and family dynamics can be the difference between working with youth, families, and communities and serving youth, families and communities. All in all, it is safe to say I have had an excellent experience in the YFCS program here at NC State!”