Going back to college after finishing an undergraduate degree may sound counterintuitive at first, but earning a graduate degree can open more doors for any field of study. On-campus and online students earning higher degrees from Pensacola Christian College are taking classes over the summer, giving them a focused experience in a few weeks rather than a 15-week semester. By taking summer classes, graduate assistants and students can lighten their credit load and reduce their time to graduate.
Karena Branham (Marketing ’21) wanted to earn a degree in a field she loved and chose to study for an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction, Elementary specialization. In her summer classes, she has seen herself improve most when learning to teach a lesson in 15-, 25-, and 30-minute sessions. “Since my undergrad was in marketing, I had absolutely no experience teaching,” she said. “I learned that I’m much more capable than I thought I was. I feel better equipped to succeed in my classes during the semester because I completed this summer session.”
As a PCC alumna, Karena has appreciated the smooth transition from undergrad student to graduate assistant. “I knew the expectations, and I’ve been able to help other grads coming in from other colleges,” she said. And although Karena is taking a break from work during summer classes, Karena has appreciated earning money while studying for her degree. “I feel very independent. I love my job and enjoy focusing on my 28 hours of work a week [during the semester] and then focusing on my classes for the rest.”
Graduate assistant Tim Dosh (Pastoral Ministries ’20), who is studying for the Master of Divinity degree at Pensacola Theological Seminary, desired a deeper biblical understanding after earning his undergrad degree. “I felt like I needed more knowledge about my field and was not ready for the ministry yet,” he said. Taking a few classes over the summer helps him to fast-track his education. “I’m so happy that I can do four courses super fast, but it’s really challenging, especially with a wife and baby. Making new friends and taking all the classes together, you can struggle and study through them together, and that makes it a little better.”
Before coming to PCC, graduate assistant Ana Dias Carvalho was a private school teacher in Brazil and a missionary in Portugal working directly with orphanages. Now, she’s taking summer classes on campus for her M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction, Elementary specialization.“The summer sessions allow for us to have smaller classrooms, which makes us feel more comfortable participating, asking questions, and being even more assisted by the teachers,” Ana said. “Although it is a lot of work in a short amount of time, the curriculum is just compacted and not neglected. In ten days, you feel just as prepared as if you dedicated a whole semester to the subject.”
Ana was familiar with PCC through having family and friends who have graduated from undergrad and graduate programs. She saw them increase their understanding and grow in their wisdom and spiritual lives as well. “From my posture and behavior to my spiritual life to my views and expectations as a teacher, I can see a lot of growth. I’m very happy with where I’m at right now and the opportunities and more growth that the future will bring,” she said. “As an international [student], I feel like sometimes I have to work extra hard just to stay afloat, but I’ve been having some very understanding teachers willing to work with me and help me through every step.”
After earning his undergraduate degree from a private college in North Carolina, graduate student Bradley Nagel desired further training to prepare him for leadership roles at a Christian school. He chose to study for his M.S. in Educational Leadership at PCC. “I wanted to have a master’s education from a biblical worldview and one that challenges me mentally and spiritually,” he explained. “From the first day of class with Dr. [John] Reese, I knew that this is where God wanted me to study. Because of that, it has inspired me to work as hard as I possibly can so God can have the glory in all that I do.”
Bradley, who recently began an assistant principal position at a new school, teaches a Bible class and has four young children at home. Taking summer graduate classes online has given him the academic support to stay on top of his responsibilities. “With everything on my plate, I’m so grateful I have the freedom to watch lectures when it fits my schedule,” he said.
Taking summer classes has given these students the ability to sharpen their skills and expand their understanding. “I thank God for this school and for their stand on education,” said Bradley. “This is what God intended education to look like, and I want to thank everyone at PCC for their continued dedication to the Lord.”
Visit www.pcci.edu/Grad to learn more about PCC and PTS graduate degrees!