No Hurdle Too High for eVersity Student

As Wendy Murillo put the finishing touches on her long-awaited college degree, she took a moment to ponder everything that had crossed her path on the journey. And for the 29-year-old replenishment specialist from Rogers, those challenges have been substantial.

The self-described “12-year college pursuer” earned an associate’s degree from Northwest Arkansas Community College before hitting a brick wall trying to get her bachelor’s degree. An online school sponsored by her employer didn’t work out and with a growing family and her husband, Oscar, enrolled at the University of Arkansas, cost and location were prime considerations.

“Quite frankly, I needed to be able to manage work and kids and going to school,” she said. “I was online looking for schools in Arkansas and it popped up that (the UA System) had a new online program and the tuition was great. It sounded like they were really set up to let the student succeed, and they are. It’s amazing.”

Murillo began classes with eVersity and immediately noticed a difference from her previous experience with online education.

“You could absolutely tell it was different,” she said. “You knew who your advisor was, you knew who was over the entire program. Your teachers, there is a face to a name. It wasn’t just, ‘Here is your assignment, figure it out.’”

The program so inspired her as a student that even the birth of her third child in November didn’t throw off her stride.

“I didn’t take a break and honestly, I owe that to my professors,” she said. “I thought that having had two kids already that with the third this will be fine, I’ll be on maternity leave, no big deal. I forgot how much work a baby takes.”

“I emailed my professor and explained, ‘Hey, I thought I was able to do this but I’m not. I’m either going to have to drop out of your class or I need an extension.’ He allowed it and I’m so thankful. The way it’s working, I graduate right before my maternity leave is up. It will shift my balance from having to balance school and work to I’m done with school and on to work.”

With her criminal justice degree in hand, Murillo has gained new professional opportunities, but it’s the sense of personal fulfillment that she values most.

“Honestly, it’s amazing,” she said. “Of course, the money is a benefit to having a degree, but I really didn’t do it for the money because I could be fine where I am today. I did it because you grow up and you’re told, ‘Go to college. Get a degree.’ Then you think, ‘This is never going to happen. This is 12 years. How am I ever going to do it?’”

“When you realize, ‘I actually did it,’ it’s an amazing accomplishment, especially to say that you did it with kids. That shows me that it doesn’t matter how old you are or what kind of job you have, you can do something if you’re committed. It’s a very fulfilling sense of accomplishment.”