Barb Camarillo, BAS

Barb CamarilloFor a long time, Barb Camarillo didn't know what she wanted to do.

But when she finished her associate's degree in business management at Western Iowa Tech Community College, she knew exactly what she wanted to do next. In December 2010, Camarillo, then 39, completed the journey that she had started four years earlier. She received her Bachelor of Applied Studies degree from The University of Iowa, which was earned entirely at a distance from her home in Sioux City.

"I knew I wanted a bachelor's degree with the potential of going into a master's program," Camarillo said. "I wanted a credible university. I knew that being a resident of Iowa it would be more affordable for me than if I went to any other state university, and I knew that The University of Iowa provided a lot of great programs."

Iowa's Bachelor of Applied Studies (BAS) Online Degree Program is designed for community college graduates, like Camarillo, who want to complete a bachelor's degree at a distance at their own pace.

The program doesn't call for the completion of a traditional academic major. Students instead choose from one of seven track options: creative writing, entrepreneurial management, general studies, human relations, justice studies, nonprofit management, and political science. Some tracks have a corresponding certificate while others are considered an area of emphasis.

Camarillo, a maintenance planner at Tyson in Dakota City, Neb., finished the entrepreneurial management track. It was important to her to find a program that would be flexible enough to work with and around her schedule from which she could earn a degree that would set her apart.

"I have friends who have done programs at strictly online universities, and I felt uneasy about placing that kind of investment in a program when I didn't know how people would receive it," Camarillo said. "I knew if future prospective employers saw The University of Iowa, I felt like it would stand for something." Camarillo was able to work with her advisor to develop her own plan of study within the parameters of the degree requirements, even taking some time to step out recently because of a situation at work that called for extra time and attention.

"All the instructors I've had have been more than understanding," she said. And that's a big part of the reason why Camarillo now is considering the pursuit of a master's of social work degree through Iowa's distance degree program located in Sioux City. One degree at a time, though. And this one means a lot, especially to an Iowa resident who thought she'd never have the chance to earn a degree from The University of Iowa. "It really does mean a lot," she said. "I felt like I hit a gold mine when I saw they had something available that fit what I wanted to do and that I could do it at a distance. It has been a wonderful thing."