How does an educator in Indiana end up enrolled in a Louisiana-based graduate degree program in an entirely different career field? Through Uganda.
Brett Krieble completed the Master of Science in Nonprofit Administration online program at LSU Shreveport with a 4.0 GPA in February 2019. Thirteen months earlier, she started the Ribe Project, a nonprofit organization in Uganda geared toward helping impoverished women learn vocations and business skills.
"I had been thinking about earning a master's degree for the last five years or so, but I was going back and forth on what I wanted to pursue," Krieble said. "Did I want to professionalize my teaching license? That would mean getting a degree in history or psychology.
"I also considered school counseling. Once I started the nonprofit, I felt like my path had been determined. This program was perfect for what I needed."
Krieble, who is also director of learning support services at University High School of Indiana, could not feasibly return to college in a traditional brick-and-mortar setting with such a busy schedule.
"I really needed the flexibility that an online program offered," she said. "It was perfect. It was the rigidness of a traditional program that kept me from going back to school all of these years.
"I work 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day and have to go home and take care of things there. There was no time in the schedule for driving — let alone the time it would take to finish the degree. LSUS offered an accelerated program where I could get it done very quickly."
Krieble graduated with a bachelor's degree in history and psychology from Indiana State University in 1981. Forgive her for not spending as much time studying as she did at LSUS; she was a Sycamore at the same time as basketball legend Larry Bird, who led ISU to the 1979 NCAA championship game.
"I had a really good time earning my undergrad degree, which had a lot to do with Larry Bird. He was a fun guy. The whole team was great fun," she said. "I wanted to show myself what I could do this time. I probably put in more time than was necessary, but it was really important to me."
When Krieble wasn't cheering on the Sycamores, she found her true calling as a teacher after taking some education courses. She started college as a psychology major and switched her focus to history.
"Once I did a practicum and worked around high school students, I knew what I needed to do," she said. "I never looked back. I got my first teaching job right out of school."
After working for a decade, Krieble was a stay-at-home mom to her four children — Nick (31), Jordan (28), Haley (26) and Gabby (23) — for 25 years.
She returned to the classroom at her current school in 2007 and started a school club associated with a national nonprofit that focused on helping Uganda.
"The first time I traveled there was in 2015," she said. "By that time, the original organization didn't exist anymore, but there was still a huge need for work to be done.
"After spending time in some of the villages, I decided I needed to help the women in rural Uganda get some vocational training and outside resources. I try to go back there at least once a year. It's very cool. I love it."
Once Krieble decided to return to college for a graduate degree, she did a Google search for the top nonprofit administration and development online programs and found LSUS.
"I took the top three and found out all of the information about them," Krieble said. "LSUS had the most accommodating enrollment timeline. I was able to start almost immediately.
"With the other programs, I would have had to have waited until the next semester. I figured, 'Now that I have decided to pull the trigger on this, I want to get started right away.' It was perfect."
It took some time for Krieble to adjust to being a college student again, but she had the love and support of her children to keep her on track. Two of them are starting master's programs of their own soon. Haley works for a nonprofit that helps women and children who are victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
"Of course, my kids were extremely proud of me for taking what was really a huge leap outside of my comfort zone and starting this program," she said. "I remember in my very first class only a week in, I called a couple of my daughters and said, 'I don't think I can do this. This is too hard. I haven't written a paper in 30 years.' They told me, 'Mom, do whatever you need to do.' I told myself, 'Don't be a big baby.' It turned out really well."
NPA 762: Nonprofit Resource Development was Krieble's favorite course in the online MS in Nonprofit Administration program.
"That course had a real complete, hands-on approach that required us to choose a nonprofit and find a grant that would fit it and write the request," she said. "That has already served me well in the real world. The information in the program was absolutely applicable."
Although Krieble was not able to attend the commencement ceremony at LSUS in May 2019, one of her classmates sent her a memento from graduation to commemorate the major accomplishment.
"I became close to five of the people in my cohort," she said. "One went to graduation. She took a lot of pictures and got each of us an official sleeve for our diplomas."
Although Krieble already had a job in the nonprofit realm before enrolling in the master's degree program, she believes the degree gives her other career options.
"It 100% helps open up opportunities for me," she said. "I didn't need it for that, but I know that if, for some reason, I needed to find employment, I have a whole new field open to me outside of teaching that I didn't have before this degree."
Krieble hopes to continue feeding her passion for education, both at home and abroad.
"I plan on doing this as long as they'll keep me," she said. "Being around high school education definitely feeds my soul, and I love doing the nonprofit in Uganda, which has kind of become a second home. I plan on continuing on my path and seeing where it leads me."
Because Krieble is a relative newcomer to the nonprofit administration world, she knows the master's degree program at LSUS is ideal for learning the ropes.
"I would say to do it," she said. "The program specifically targets people like me who have been out of school for a long time. Returning seems scary at first. The workload seemed overwhelming when I had not been on that side of an academic environment for a long time.
You'll be surprised at how much you can accomplish. You'll find out how valuable your life experience is in a lot of the classes, as well. The flexibility and the accelerated pace made all of the difference for me."
Learn more about the LSUS online MS in Nonprofit Administration program.
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