On The Cover

Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe '96
concludes his official visit to Vietnam
on Dec. 18, 2012.

2012 Distinguished Alumni Awards

The Success of the Barry Athletics Model

Campus Democracy Project

Spring 2013, Volume 18, Number 1

Campus Currents I Spotlight On Sports I Barry Beat I Features

Ace in The Hole

Barry’s School of Adult and Continuing Education helps adult learners and ‘retirees’ make smooth career transitions.

By Jennifer LeClaire

Ivonne Ortiz was working as an assistant in a Downtown Miami law firm when she decided to enroll in a higher education program that she felt would advance her career. After graduating from Barry University’s School of Adult and Continuing Education (ACE) with a Bachelor of Arts in legal studies, the 55-year-old now has her heart set on earning her own law degree. “I figured a degree from Barry would help put the lock on a management position at the law firm,” she said. “But graduating from Barry opened up opportunities to go to law school. A couple of schools have invited me to join their program and I’m preparing for the LSAT now. None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for Barry.” Although everyone’s story is unique, statistically speaking Ortiz is one of many. Between 1991 and 2011, the 25- to 44-year-old population in the United States grew a mere 1 percent, but adult enrollment in both undergraduate and graduate programs grew more than 50 percent during that same period, according to Boston-based Eduventures, a research, consulting and advisory services firm for the higher education community. Indeed, adult education has come a long way over the past two decades and Barry University is leading the way into the future. “Some people in the middle of their careers are looking to make dramatic changes,” said ACE interim dean Andrea Allen. “Some are dissatisfied with corporate life. Others have discovered instability in the corporate world and want to move toward a government-based path. Either way, more than 40 percent of students enrolled today in institutions of higher education are adult students.”

ACE offers adult learners access to undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees and non-credit professional development programs. Recent graduates include Norma Herrera, Health Services Administration (left); Sandra Acevedo, Liberal Studies (right); and Rolande Simeon, Public Administration (center).


At Barry, ACE offers adult learners access to undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees, and non-credit professional development programs that encourage an interactive approach to learning. Barry’s ACE program relies on practitioner-focused course content and faculty who are subject matter experts in their field. The program currently has 18 sites across the state. “Adult students are becoming much more mainstream and adult programs are being specifically tailored to this demographic,” said Dr. Heidi McLaughlin, associate dean of marketing at Barry University. “Everything we do in our Adult and Continuing Education program is driven by andragogy, a teaching principle that underlies how individuals beyond traditional college age process and use information in their daily lives.” That means ACE programs at Barry are not just evening versions of the day programs in which traditional students typically enroll. ACE degrees are designed based on what is (and will be) happening in industries and organizations, market feedback, and the specific skill enhancements adult learners need to help advance their careers. “We are community-embedded. We go to corporations, organizations and institutions and form partnerships, then deliver our programs right in the community to employees of these corporations, organizations and institutions,” Allen said. “We do that because we recognize adult learners need flexibility, and they need to learn in their own environment.”

Equipped for Promotion

Ken Becker, a sergeant in the Collier County Sheriff ’s Office and an adult student, agreed and said he appreciated the opportunity to study with students closer to his own age — students with real career experience — as he pursued his Bachelor in Public Administration degree. He also valued the opportunity to learn from faculty who were industry leaders with a wealth of experience in the field.

“Taking classes at Barry helped me gain a better understanding of how and why things are done in the agency I work for,” said the 51-year-old Becker. “Even though I didn’t get an immediate promotion because of the economic downturn, I’ll be better equipped to pursue a different career path in another area of law enforcement in 2016.”

Becker plans to transition to a career in the child safety field, such as preventing the exploitation of children online, when he retires at age 55. This type of career transition exemplifies ACE’s mission to help adult students and “retirees” like Becker find a strong sense of purpose and become change agents in their community. With a Wells Fargo survey revealing 30 percent of Americans now plan to work until they are 80 or older, ACE programs are becoming an increasingly important component of both workforce and economic development. Modern students are more likely to be employed and have multiple commitments. They are often individuals who cannot make college their sole focus, according to Chari Leader Kelly, PhD, vice president of LearningCounts.org, a Council for Adult and Experiential Learning program founded by an alliance between The College Board and the American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service. “I’ve heard others say, ‘Tomorrow’s work force is today’s work force!’ This means that adults will need to work much longer, change careers, and continue to pursue lifelong learning and new skills training to have jobs that will support their families,” Kelly said. “However (at the same time), with the recession, we’re seeing more adults than ever before working more hours than ever before — due to cutbacks — and they’re struggling to fit continuing education into their busy schedules.” In order to accommodate the reality of today’s overburdened worker/adult student, Barry is developing more flexible ACE programs, Allen notes. Three of the school’s programs are now fully available online: the Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management, the Master’s of Arts in administration and the Masters in public administration. Yet, she emphasizes that engagement among online students and instructors must remain a vital component of any educational program.