When Kelli Ross’ job was outsourced to Germany, she decided to turn lemons into lemonade.
After more than 30 years of working, she found herself collecting unemployment. But rather than let her career stall, she took advantage of the opportunity to go back to school. The Federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program allowed her to earn a degree that would put her back on the job market.
Kelli finished her associate’s with the Community College of Vermont, but took those credits — along with a previously earned computer technology certificate — and applied them toward her bachelor’s with the External Degree Program.
At first, she wondered if she was doing the right thing. As Kelli puts it, her grades weren’t the best in high school, and returning to college was something she worried would take up time she could spend finding work.
But the EDP’s ability to mold a program around the learner — and not the other way around — proved to Kelli it was the best possible option.
“I got to pick and choose what I wanted to do based on my background and where I wanted to go,” she said.
The EDP’s Professional Studies program let Kelli choose classes that focused on what she knew about business logistics, but it also gave her the opportunity to learn more about her passions in environmental sustainability. She could think more expansively, pursuing a new interest in biodegradable packaging and other sustainable business practices. But she learned a lot more than the subject matter.
“Anything Johnson State offers in whatever you go into, what you take away from it is that it makes you think outside the box,” Kelli said.
With the tremendous assistance of professors and her EDP Advisor Valerie Edwards, Kelli is proud to say that the EDP may have made a “perpetual student” out of her. Two days after graduating from the EDP, Kelli enrolled in a University of Vermont program to obtain her professional certificate in Sustainable Business Practices, collecting graduate credits toward pursing a possible master’s degree.
It’s the type of thing you hear from someone who finished magna cum laude at the top of her graduating class, which is exactly what Kelli did.
“I never thought in a million years I could do what I just pulled off in a little under three years’ time,” Kelli said. “I would go back to Johnson State in a heartbeat.”