Matt Cardinal of Decatur already had a career in the highly sought out field of X-ray Technology when he joined Millikin's Organizational Leadership PACE Program.
Matt’s situation was somewhat unique to PACE because he was balancing full-time coursework while working second shift. Fortunately, his schedule at St. Mary’s Hospital of working two 12-hour days and two eight-hour days each week worked with his scheduled one night of class.
He had some starts and stops with his education prior to enrolling in a two-year X-ray technology program at a community college. After working in that field for six years, he thought a bachelor's degree in OL would be a possible shortcut to move ahead of other people with seniority who only had a technical degree. His thinking was right on target!
Part way through his OL degree he took a risk and applied for a position at Richland Community College as the Director for their Radiography Program. He openly admitted he currently lacked the educational qualifications for the job, but pointed to his initiative to complete his degree as proof he was a go-getter. He arrived in class beaming from ear to ear when Richland gave him the opportunity to prove he deserved the position. He has been working diligently ever since in a career he loves!
In addition to his work schedule, he balances family life, which includes extended family, while taking care of a home and all its related duties. He and his wife of five years are planning to begin a family soon.
Matt said the biggest eye-opener when he started the PACE program was the workload which is so much more concentrated in a 5-week course than either a traditional or online course. He learned that working on school-related projects every day allowed him to stay focused and on track. One of the best surprises for Matt happened in his first class in the Organizational Leadership series. As the instructor shared how organizational leadership is different from management, it opened his eyes to his own work place and he experienced a new mentality about leadership. “All of a sudden, it just clicked. It was definitely a ‘where I should be’ moment for me, " said Matt.
The bricks and mortar classroom and hybrid courses appealed to Matt over true online programs because he could really meet classmates and instructors. “I learned from my fellow classmates and I liked the personal connection. I also got to know my instructors better and felt I get more out of the material." The PACE format must have worked perfectly for Matt because he graduated in Spring 2012 with a perfect 4.0 GPA and was honored as the student selected to give Millikin's commencement speech.
Matt is still not satisfied with his educational credentials, which he sees as particularly important in the academic career he has chosen. He is midway through a Master's Program in Education (eLearning) at the University of Illinois, where he is tackling the challenges of an online curriculum that he identified above. But, the foundation of focus and self-determination he established at Millikin have made the journey easier.