Photo of Darla Wiehle

Darla Wiehle, '09/'12

Making Online Education More Than a Virtual Reality

By Theresa Schmidt ‘09

For Darla Wiehle, online education is more than a virtual reality: it’s offered her a chance to pursue her education without sacrificing working full-time in healthcare and raising her two children. “Since I have always had a full-time position in the workforce, online classes made it easier for me to complete the work on my own schedule and at my convenience,” Darla explains. “The McKendree experience has been wonderful; all of the advisors I have worked with and counselors have been so helpful and encouraging.”

"She was and is truly an inspiration to her students."

In fact, it was the encouragement of one McKendree teacher in particular that helped motivate Darla into pursuing her Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) after graduating from McKendree’s AiM program with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in 2009: “I had courses that I really enjoyed; one of those was the psychology class taught by Dr. Tami Eggleston … She encouraged me to complete the MBA program. She was and is truly an inspiration to her students; anyone who has a chance to interact with Dr. Eggleston is fortunate!”

Of course, a good education depends on the commitment of the student as well, as Darla knows well. She says, “When our children were growing up, I had thought about going back to school but all of the classes required actually attending and were not available online. They were all on Tuesday and Thursday evenings; our son played basketball and his games were on those evenings. I did not want to miss any of his games so waited for quite some time. I began the BBA program in 2009 and had to work really hard to catch up since I also took most of my electives at the same time I was in the BBA program.”

"The MBA ... has allowed me to move into senior management roles ..."

The opportunity to pursue her MBA online was a blessing, professionally as well as personally: “I have benefited in so many ways from going back to college as an adult and receiving my MBA degree. The MBA, along with extensive work experience, has allowed me to move into senior management roles that would not have been open to me without an advanced degree.”

Working as the Director of Process Re-Engineering at Anderson Hospital since 2011 and in healthcare since 1990, Darla found Organizational Behavior and her psychology courses with Dr. Eggleston particularly helpful in the workplace. “I have always worked in healthcare with a large number of diverse employees. Every organization has their own culture, so this class [Organizational Behavior] was very insightful,” she recalls. “[In psychology courses,] it was interesting to explore the insights of why people react the way that they do; that insight proved to be very valuable.”

"When you have an advanced degree your perspective becomes very different."

Even Darla’s perspective and worldview have opened up with this continued education. She notes, “When you have an advanced degree your perspective becomes very different. You realize that there are many different ways to approach an issue to solve it. You learn to pick your battles and not make snap judgments when you are faced with a difficult situation, either in the workplace or elsewhere. A lot of that experience obviously comes from age and experience, but furthering your education also plays a very big part as well.”

Thanks to her own positive experiences with McKendree’s online offerings, Darla is eager to pass her love for lifelong learning to everyone around her: “Maturity and responsibility played a huge part in my experience. I wanted to excel in the classes and do the very best that I could. I am a big proponent of McKendree University already and always encourage anyone to go back and further their education.”

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