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Organizations Keep Team Members
Motivated and Educated with Perks from NCU’s Strategic Partnerships Program

Written by Judy Tierney

Celerity Schools Louisiana (CSL) was searching for a university to fulfill a unique need. The non-profit organization, dedicated to providing quality alternative schools in underserved Louisiana communities, wanted to enroll members of its leadership team in an advanced degree program as a pseudo-cohort. The program had to be flexible enough for the staff to keep their full-time jobs, start their studies at approximately the same time and allow them to adjust their course-load to correspond with their work demands.

Crystal Lewis Front left: Angela Beck, Back left: Ashatea Stanley, Front right: Christina Faulk, Back right: Megan McNamara

“We had some administrators and leaders that didn’t have a master’s or doctoral degree, and we had funding to help develop their talents,” explains Megan McNamara, CSL associate superintendent. “When we reached out to NCU last year and explained that we wanted the team to work on classes together at the same time, they embraced the idea.”

In fact, it was the start of a wonderful partnership. “We were ready to move forward and enroll our employees in the program, but NCU proactively invited us to be part of the University’s Strategic Partnerships Program, offering even more benefits and possibilities than we could have imagined,” says McNamara.

NCU’s Strategic Partnerships Program—which includes alliances with nearly 100 companies, associations and other organizations—provides employees and members with preferred tuition rates, transfer opportunities and other customized opportunities at no cost to the partner.

“By tailoring a program that works with our schedules, NCU is enabling us to earn our degrees at the same time, while supporting each other through the process,” says McNamara, who is one of eight CSL leaders now enrolled in NCU’s School of Education. Currently two are pursuing master’s degrees in organizational leadership while she and five others are pursuing doctoral degrees.

The schedule also allows the CSL staff to continue their focus on the four schools, 45 teachers and 600 K-8 students they serve. In fact, the five current students who work directly with CSL schools are on hiatus from their NCU coursework until standardized testing for their elementary school students is over.

“NCU proactively invited us to be part of the University’s Strategic Partnerships Program, offering even more benefits and possibilities than we could have imagined.”

Megan McNamara

The CSL benefits, which extend to all of the organization’s employees, are promoted through specially-designed posters, flyers and other materials posted throughout their campuses. “Everyone can participate, from our superintendents to teachers to curriculum specialists and coaches,” says McNamara. “And the personal attention the NCU service coordinators provide makes us feel like we have special access to information and resources.”

NCU’s Strategic Partnerships Program managers often play an active role in educating partners’ members about the benefits available to them. Andrea Moran, who manages Mohave Community College’s (MCC) program says NCU representatives regularly attend events the college sponsors to talk directly to students and answer their questions.

Located in the northwest corner of Arizona and with more than 6,000 students enrolled, MCC joined the Strategic Partnerships Program in 2005. While all students, faculty and staff are entitled to participate, Moran says it was established based on a high level of student interest.

“One of the primary elements of our unique relationship with NCU is that students may transfer associate degree credits as a block—rather than on a course-by-course basis—to count toward the University’s bachelor’s degree-completion programs,” she explains. “MCC students also receive a reduction in the published tuition rate for their entire degree program at NCU, which is extremely valuable to them.”

To enhance awareness among MCC students wishing to transfer to NCU, both organizations have webpages providing information about the partnership. Moran also cites ongoing efforts such as NCU participation at transfer fair events and providing MCC advisors with co-branded materials about the program.

“Being an NCU strategic partner is like being a member of a concierge service. It has been extremely rewarding to me personally and to CSL as an organization—the steps NCU has taken to collaborate with us and to make our priorities a reality.”

Megan McNamara

In addition to the customized perks their organizations receive, both Moran and McNamara say that NCU’s one-to-one learning model, weekly course starts and online flexibility are a great fit for their employees and students. And what organization wouldn’t want to provide the people they value most with benefits that add value?

“Being an NCU strategic partner is like being a member of a concierge service,” says McNamara. “It has been extremely rewarding to me personally and to CSL as an organization—the steps NCU has taken to collaborate with us and to make our priorities a reality.”

If you or your employer/organization want to explore the possibilities of an educational alliance through NCU’s Strategic Partnerships Program, please contact alliances@ncu.edu.


Military Spouse Overcoming
Relocation Challenges to Achieve Educational Goals

Written by Judy Tierney

Crystal Lewis knows all too well the toll frequent relocations can take on a person’s ability to earn an education, network and advance their career. Combine that with managing a family and the challenges are even greater.

Crystal Lewis Crystal Lewis and Family

As the wife of an active duty Naval officer now stationed in Okinawa, Lewis, a doctoral student in NCU’s School of Education, has moved her family to California, Virginia and Japan, just in the past five years. She’s seen first-hand the impact these arduous transitions can have on military spouses.

“Each time we move to a new duty station, we are forced to begin again,” says Lewis. “We have to build new networks to find employment commensurate with our education and experience.”

With no residency requirements, weekly starts and classes that are 100 percent online, NCU provides opportunities for military members and their families that meet their unique challenges. The University also offers preferred tuition rates and partners with the American Council on Education (ACE), the U.S. Department of Defense and branches of the military to help translate military training and experience into academic credit.

“Supporting active duty military spouses in their educational endeavors is something close to my heart. Permanent change of station moves and spouse deployments can make us feel discouraged, but it’s important to reach out for support and keep going, one step at a time.”

Crystal Lewis

Even with the support of the military community around them, working toward career and educational ambitions can be frustrating and isolating. “Relocating every 2-3 years forces many military spouses to leave their educational programs,” Lewis explains. “Until I found the online doctorate program at NCU, I was unable to continue my education, and as a result, I was struggling to make myself competitive in my field.”

Lewis says she was also drawn to NCU by the University’s commitment to help professionals around the world achieve their educational goals—a mission that aligns with her own personal mission. As a volunteer educational lead for the Military Spouse Professional Network (MSPN), a global organization sponsored by Hiring Our Heroes and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Lewis assists fellow spouses with program searches, major declaration, scholarship identification and application, and FAFSA applications.

“Supporting active duty military spouses in their educational endeavors is something close to my heart,” says Lewis. “Permanent change of station moves and spouse deployments can make us feel discouraged, but it’s important to reach out for support and keep going, one step at a time.”