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Blog

Coming Full Circle – Ryan Bowers’ Journey From Student to Staff Through DragonNext

If we lived in a perfect world, the path taken to reach one’s goals would be personalized, tailored specifically to that person. No two people’s needs or challenges are identical, so a one size fits all approach to success doesn’t make sense, especially where education is concerned. Everybody seeking to better themselves should be allowed the freedom to do so in a way that works with their schedules. Unfortunately, this is not possible for many seeking to pursue a college degree, as institutions of higher education remain biased toward the traditional or full-time student. While there is nothing wrong with going through college in this way, ignoring those who don’t or can’t does a disservice to a large number of capable future professionals. A majority of university classes are held during normal business hours with few accommodations in place for part-time or non-traditional learners. However, this standard is beginning to change, and both Tiffin University and Terra State Community College are now catering to students such as Ryan Bowers, a graduate of the DragonNext Dual Enrollment Program.

According to Ryan, the route of the traditional student was unrealistic for him to pursue, given his already-packed professional and educational schedule. Despite this, Ryan was able to finish both an undergraduate and a graduate degree with the reasonable adjustments provided to him through the DragonNext program.

“I was working a full-time job of 45-50 hours a week and wasn’t able to take classes during the day,” says Ryan. “I was also finishing my associate degree at the Ohio Business College, so adding only one additional class on top of my other coursework was more manageable for me.”

Shortly after enrolling in the program, Ryan noticed one of its main advantages – the small, intimate feeling and level of individual attention each student received. He is pleased to report that the bonds he made with his classmates remain strong to this day.

“I completed the program with three other people from my cohort in 2018. Being such a small group, we often leaned on each other for both moral and academic support. These people will remain lifelong friends of mine due to the bond we created while navigating our classes together.”

Ryan is pleased with the quality of education he received with TU and Terra, and cites several standout qualities of the curriculum and overall environment. More specifically, the intense support system he found through his friends and classmates, the encouragement and help he received from his advisor and especially the fact that the curriculum was centered around writing assignments as opposed to testing.

“I have never been great at taking tests,” Ryan admits. “This is why I failed numerous times in the past while doing the more traditional college route.”

This sentiment brings to mind an important point – no two people are alike, and everybody excels under different sets of conditions. Not being a strong test-taker is in no way a poor reflection on Ryan’s capabilities as a student or professional. In fact, Ryan is doing so well after excelling through our personalized approach to higher-ed, that he now holds two coveted job titles. Not only is he a Business Development Specialist for Cousino Restoration, but he also teaches as an adjunct professor at Terra State of all places.

“I’m teaching a course entitled Principles of Selling this semester, and I’m still grateful to the DragonNext Program for helping make this possible. They helped me improve my public speaking skills, and allowed me to practice in front of larger audiences, which comes in handy when I go to teach my classes now.”

After Ryan completed the DragonNext Program, he went on to obtain his MBA in Leadership and Change from TU, and notes the various ways in which TU and Terra made transitioning through the levels of his education easier.

“I was able to pay for all of the DragonNext Program without having to take out any student loans, which was a huge relief,” says Ryan. “It was easy to transfer my credits from OBC and Terra to TU as well, and my classes only met once a week in the evening, so I was able to coordinate around my work schedule. I am blessed to have been given these amazing opportunities and to have such an incredible system of support. I have my family, God and my cohort to thank for all of my successes in my career.”

Ryan’s Dragon Family is immensely proud of him for all he has accomplished. We are honored to have him join our long and distinguished list of alumni, and are thrilled to share his story of unconventional success – because success should be celebrated, no matter the path. Most of all though, we are thrilled to now refer to Ryan as Professor Bowers, and know he will go on to change the lives of his own students, much like our program changed his.