Goals and choices. They are inevitably and inextricably connected. Sometimes they follow a logical, time-honored path; other times, they take a more winding route.
For Patrick Judge, the journey proved to be a blend of the two.
“Prior to attending USC Upstate, I had been working full-time in retail for several years while also taking courses at Greenville Tech,” he said. “I had intended to transfer to one of the major colleges in the state, but chose USC Upstate because I learned that it was a smaller university, yet had the facilities and resources that you would expect from a larger school.”
Smaller class size that allowed for easier access to instructors and more involved learning, as well as the relatively lower tuition costs and reasonable commute from Greenville also aided his decision, he added.
Choosing to major in Information Management and Systems was a logical choice in Judge’s mind once he researched prospective careers. The Informatics program and degree offered through USC Upstate sealed the deal for his decision.
As he transitioned into his college career, Judge found the relaxing and inviting campus environment and various programs and activities helped ease some initial concerns he had.
“Before I came to USC Upstate, I thought I would stand out as an “older” student because I was 30 when I started,” Judge noted. “In almost all my courses, however, there were usually at least a few students older than me. There are many non-traditional students on campus, such as working adults, parents, and veterans. Non-traditional students will find the campus welcoming and not have a problem “fitting in.’”
Despite juggling five courses, work, and other personal commitments, Judge knew the value of exploring all available opportunities offered through the University.
“I worked as a paid research assistant for Dr. Amy Connolly, an assistant professor in the Department of Informatics,” he said. “She had been awarded a grant to study the effectiveness of recruiting volunteers on social media. As a research assistant, my duties involved conducting research and creating survey items that will be used to gather data for a study.”
In addition, Judge was able to utilize the services provided by the school’s Career Center to their fullest potential.
“I went to the Career Center to get help with my resume and learn interview tips,” he said. “That visit made me aware of an internship position in Greenville with Optum, which is part of UnitedHealth Group. I was selected to work over the summer of 2015 as a systems analyst in their Technology Development Program. My internship work led to a job offer from Optum which I gratefully accepted and begin this summer.”
Through the ups, downs, and bends of his journey, Judge, who recently graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Information Management and Systems and minor in Business Administration, has learned the value of making informed decisions and maximizing opportunities.
“Nothing exists in a vacuum, and the courses I have taken in information systems and business have had enough overlap so I can see how all the pieces fit together,” he emphasized. “The most rewarding part was leveraging my education, accomplishments, and experience in such a positive pursuit of academic and professional goals.”
STORY BY MEG HUNT