For Jennifer Montgomery, there is nothing more liberating than being able to say she completed her bachelor’s degree when she was 42 years old.

“I was trying to balance working full-time and being a single mom to three school-age children, while working full time,” says Montgomery.  “My goal in starting the BLS was not only to complete my degree and have my kids watch as their mom graduated from college, but to also be able to obtain a good-paying, secure job that was related to my course work and interests.”

Through online courses, she completed a BLS with an emphasis in Health and Human Studies, which enabled her to secure a new job as executive assistant to the director of the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), an agency charged with protecting and improving the public health of Iowans.

Vaccinations, infectious disease control, professional licensing, water fluoridation, nutrition and tobacco use prevention are just a few of the responsibilities that IDPH oversees. 

Montgomery says her responsibilities require her to do a bit of everything from complex scheduling assignments to acting as recording secretary for the Iowa State Board of Health.  

“Completing my degree is most certainly helping me in my career,” says Montgomery. “My degree ties directly in with the work I do here at IDPH and the work that our office does on behalf of the citizens of Iowa.”

Montgomery originally started out as a social work major on campus at the University of Iowa, but found that a flexible degree program that allowed her to complete courses online and in the evening worked better for her. 

According to Montgomery, “Everything about online learning worked for me.”  Having my courses online in a virtual classroom and being able to interact with my classmates and professors through technology-based software provided me with the same quality education I would have received on campus.” 

Setting the example that hard work pays off is important to Montgomery.  To that end, she spent many evenings at the kitchen table where she and her children did their homework together.  This family time has had a positive impact.  The worked together to complete goals like getting an A or a B on a challenging course.  Though completing a degree can be challenging, her children have learned just how important education is for leading the life you want. 

Montgomery says, “My degree is my golden ticket to a satisfying lifelong career.”