Due to his wife’s inspiration and a desire to reach others, Chris Allen began pursuing an online degree that would allow him to do just that. As a spouse, parent and full-time employee at NC State, he is grateful to not only work “where learning is ingrained in the environment,” but also for living in a household that encourages education. One way he found time to complete his courses was by doing his homework at the same time as his kids did theirs.
This May, Allen will earn his Master of Education in Training and Development through NC State Online.
Currently, Allen is the IT Systems Manager in the College of Engineering at NC State. He began the program because of his desire to become more than a mentor. He wanted “to reach as many people as possible because positive, strengths-based leadership is needed to grow employees to be the best they can be.” He was also inspired by his wife, Dr. Kim Allen, a professor and former DELTA Faculty Fellow at NC State. Allen says, “She has been my inspiration and cheerleader for my dream of attaining a graduate degree.”
Assistant Teaching Professor Michelle Bartlett appreciates Allen’s work ethic: “This student has excelled in all areas of his graduate student journey. Chris was part of a team project in his final semester that was extraordinary and highlights his dedication, talent, and the innovative experiences his program offered.”
Below, read Allen’s inspiring story in his own words.
Tell me your story. Why did you pursue the Master’s in Training and Development degree? When did you enroll? What were some of the deciding factors in choosing NC State’s program versus others?
I started my program in the spring semester of 2018. NC State University was the best choice for me because of what the Training and Development program had to offer. The program had the flexibility of being online. I am getting to the stage of my career where I want to start training others in the discipline of leadership. I want to become more than a mentor, which usually involves only 1 or 2 people at a time. I want to reach as many people as possible because positive, strengths-based leadership is needed to grow employees to be the best they can be. As a team leader who develops innovative environments for adult learners, I wanted to understand the discipline of education and how technology can transform the student experience. Finally, I have been inspired by my wife, Dr. Kim Allen. She is a first-generation college student, and she went all the way to get her Ph.D. And she reached the level of professor, teaching others at the graduate level at NC State. She has been my inspiration and cheerleader for my dream of attaining a graduate degree.
Describe your experience in the online M.Ed. in Training and Development program.
I have had a great experience with the Training and Development program. The best part is working with so many different folks from all over North Carolina and beyond. The project-based experiences allowed the teams that I was on to leverage those experiences into meaningful and engaging learning. The program also encouraged me to understand why I want to become a trainer. Each class was built on the last to lead me to become a better leader and educator.
How did you balance working and completing your degree?
I am fortunate to be working at NC State University, where learning is ingrained in the environment. I was encouraged to seek a degree and mix what I was learning with my day-to-day job. I am also lucky to live in a household that encourages education, making carving out time for learning a priority. I was able to do my homework simultaneously with my kids, which is a great way to find the time. And, of course, the flexibility that an online program affords full-time workers and parents to fulfill their responsibilities and still achieve a master’s degree.
How do you see your Master’s in Training and Development degree helping you in your current career? / How has the program already impacted your current work?
The Master’s of Training and Development directly helps me in two areas of my work. It has allowed me to think and understand how adult learning happens. This way, I can innovate better solutions through technology to help facilitate learning and aid faculty in their teaching. Also, knowing these skills will help me as I move higher up in technology administration at NC State. Second, it is also setting a course to build training and coaching classes on leadership. I have already built a few courses. Building positive, strengths-based leadership has been a passion of mine for a long time, and now I have the skills to be more impactful through training. My goal is to use this degree to move up in administration in technology at NC State.
Did you have any faculty members who were particularly inspiring or stood out to you?
Dr. Michelle Bartlett has been a great professor and advisor through most of my degree. She has given me opportunities to grow through using real-world, practical projects and exercises. She has not only taught me the methods of practical training, but Dr. Bartlett has also opened up my understanding of technology and how it can be used to engage students. I hope I am lucky enough to work with her again at NC State.
What is your advice for other working professionals who are thinking about continuing their education or are currently enrolled in a master’s program? Would you encourage others to take an online program?
It is always important to expand what you know. As a working professional, you can add your experience to the knowledge of others that are just starting. And you will engage with those early in their careers. That offers a new and fresh perspective on the world and your discipline. I have found that working in an online program gives me the freedom to work on coursework at the times that are best for me. A fully online program with professors trained in the discipline of online teaching makes for an equal, if not better, experience than face-to-face learning. What is unique about learning online through the Training and Development program is that it teaches the students the best practices of training online by example. Because the reality is that most training we will build will be delivered online.
Do you have plans to celebrate your graduation and/or attend the in-person commencement ceremony?
To keep with the spirit of the online program, I will be attending my graduation virtually. I plan on celebrating by taking my family on a National Park/amusement park adventure in the eastern U.S.
Feel free to share any other thoughts regarding your overall learning experience at NC State.
I feel very fortunate to have graduated from NC State. I feel more a part of the university now that I am an alumnus. And I plan on using my degree to further help students and faculty, making NC State even better. GO PACK!
Congratulations to Chris Allen and the rest of NC State Class of 2021!
Are you interested in advancing your career with a Master of Education in Training and Development from NC State Online? Visit the program page or online.ncsu.edu/programs for a full list of degree and certificate programs.
This post was originally published in DELTA News.