Congratulations to all 2020 graduates who, in spite of this difficult and unusual year, completed their degrees through dedication and hard work! We especially celebrate our UT Police and UT Public Safety graduates!
Jillian Paciello, the Clery compliance coordinator in UT Public Safety, graduated with a master’s degree from the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling at UT Knoxville.
What interested you in your degree? I have always had in interest in both psychology and education, so when I discovered the EdPsych Online program through the UT Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, I knew it was the right fit for me. What I appreciated most about the program was how they geared the class schedule toward the working adult. I was able to focus on both work and school without one interfering with the other. The program was also 100 percent online, and classes were taught synchronously with other students. From the professors to my classmates everyone was a joy to work with. The program has a close-knit community feel and everyone was really supportive of each other.
How does it help you in your work? My emphasis is in Adult Education, and as the Clery coordinator a large part of what I do is educating community members on compliance with the Clery Act. This master’s program has helped me grow in areas of public speaking, training, writing, research, and other elements that have helped me be stronger in my field. This program has really helped me develop both professionally and personally.
How did you manage the work-life-school balance? This was probably the hardest part of going back to school. I knew in order to do it I had to make sacrifices, but I knew it was all for the greater good and it would be worth it in the end! I had a ton of support from my family and friends who were completely understanding of my workload and lack of free time. Mostly, I had to schedule everything, including time for writing papers, staying ahead of deadlines and due dates. But I also had to be sure I made time for rest and fun. I had to really work to make sure I spent my time wisely so I wasn’t burning myself out by leaving things to the last minute. It wasn’t easy, but this journey has definitely changed me for the better and I am so excited to have a degree from the university I love.
What tips do you have for UT employees interested in pursuing a degree?
Just do it. Don’t worry about how long it will take. The time is going to pass anyway so you might as well use the time to improve your future. Be sure you have a good support system. Have people in your life who are there to help you or will be there to call on when you need it. Also, take the time to research different programs. UT has so many great programs and there is something for everyone. Something may exist that you don’t even know about so I encourage you to think about what interests you, what your future goals are, and what education you need to make that happen.
Now that school is done, what is the first fun thing on your list?
First thing on the list is to celebrate! I also plan to spend December being a little lazy and watching a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies. However, in January I hit the ground running again as I start the Adult Learning PhD program. I gained so much from Adult Education and enjoyed the program so much, I decided to continue the journey with the correlating doctoral program. I am really excited to continue working on my research interests and hopefully be able to give back to the institution that has done so much for me. Go Vols!