Discover Your Potential With an Online Master’s
Samira Khan isn’t the kind of learner who fits into one category. When she switched to the online Master’s in Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) from another program, she says it helped her realize her strengths and potential.
“This program kind of helped me discover me, which is such an important part of learning,” she says.
Develop Skills for the Real World
Khan says MAAS taps into your strengths, offering a variety of soft and hard skills rather than focusing on a set career path.
“People have different strengths,” she says. “We can’t be boxed into one category.”
Because MAAS is a global program with a broad range of topics, Khan says it didn’t limit her. “If I was a history major, I would have this one set of skills. So it helped me to develop so many skills that I was able to use in the real world,” she says.
Turning Ideas into Opportunities
The customizable MAAS program allows students to draw on their own experience and apply what they’re learning to solve real problems.
For a course project, Khan was able to turn an idea into a real-life opportunity. She designed a program to provide access to free education online to help local female refugees. The program will be available at the Islamic Center of the Triad in Greensboro, where she serves on the board. The idea also led to a job teaching ESL online at a local community college.
Khan credits her courses with giving her the tools to get the job. “In Design Thinking and Systems Thinking, you take a social problem to the next level, like how to solve, how to come up with a plan,” she says.
Skills Employers Want
She says before in math classes, she could only think about how bad she was at it.
MAAS courses such as Food and Film may sound nontraditional, but the focus is on needed skills, such as analytical thinking. “When you watch a movie, what really you are watching?” she says. “Now I’m like, ‘What’s the character development, what’s happening, what’s the message behind it?’”
On a job interview, this is what employers are looking for. “They don’t want somebody who’s just a really good accountant but doesn’t know how to talk to people,” she says.
‘It’s Never Late to Learn’
Khan immigrated to Canada and then moved to North Carolina in 2010. She says her degrees from her native Pakistan have little value in the United States, and she was passionate about earning the same level of education she had back home. She graduated from the MAAS program in December 2017 and is now working toward a doctorate.
Khan says she could have had a PhD 25 years ago, but she supported her husband through medical school and helped her children become successful. “That does not mean that I shouldn’t do it now,” she says. “It’s never late to learn.”
She’s using her experience to help others. Through her work teaching ESL, she helps her students learn computer skills and also encourages them to continue their education.
“I take my message to them and I’m like, ‘Don’t give up. I’m just like you,’” she says.