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Meet Shameka Ayres

Adult Degree Program Alumni Spotlight


 
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SUMMARY: In 2011, Shameka Ayres followed the same path that many high-school graduates do. Enrolling at JMU as a traditional on-campus student, she embarked on her quest for a bachelor’s.


In 2011, Shameka Ayres followed the same path that many high-school graduates do. Enrolling at JMU as a traditional on-campus student, she embarked on her quest for a bachelor’s.

But Shameka’s journey was almost immediately cut short. Hampered by financial difficulties, she was forced to drop out after one semester. She went to work as an insurance claims associate and despite several years of success, she felt that her lack of a degree stood in the way of her goals.

“I knew I needed to go back to school. I felt limited, like I couldn’t compete against my coworkers if I wanted a promotion.”

Because she couldn’t afford to quit her day job, Shameka decided that online school was the best solution for her. She chose JMU not only because it was her original college choice, but because the Adult Degree Program’s customizable curriculum allowed her to design her own program. She also took advantage of the ADP program’s scholarship opportunities.

Shameka had always been interested in human resources, so she and the ADP staff created a program that combined the Human Resource Development & Management and Professional Workplace Communication tracks. As she progressed through her courses, she found that much of the material was immediately applicable in her day job. The HR courses gave her insight into onboarding new employees, and her communications classes helped her work more effectively in a team environment.

Online courses were the key to Shameka’s success, and she found that the ADP program was uniquely suited to the needs of adult students. “The program is perfect for an actual adult who is working,” she said. “It also helped that I was familiar with the 9-5 world. It set me up to be a more disciplined student, and it was an easy transition into online classes.”

In 2019, Shameka graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Individualized Studies. “I like to finish what I started,” she said proudly. Earning her degree not only fulfilled a dream; it also quickly paid off in the form of a promotion into her company’s underwriting department.

What’s next for Shameka? As she’s settling into a new human resources role at a software development company, she’s got her eye on some certifications and perhaps even a master’s degree someday.

“I got everything I wanted, just not how I pictured getting it. I feel like I’m finally in the place I want to be.”

 

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Published: Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 7, 2022

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