Some career paths take longer to figure out.
“I have started and stopped college so many times just trying to find what it was that I wanted to do and where I wanted to go with my career,” Jermillya Farris says. “I have dabbled in so many things and so many degree programs—business administration, interior design, childhood education.”
Farris, who first took classes at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2002, is back on campus in a virtual sense. She is among the inaugural students in the University’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Leadership (BAS-AL) program, a fully online degree program tailored to students with previous college experience and seeking to complete their undergraduate studies.
When she learned about the new program, Farris says it spoke to her.
“I didn’t have time to waste money. I wanted something that would get me that degree efficiently,” says Farris, a client management associate with Blue Cross Blue Shield. “Honestly, this program works so well for the working person.
“So this program, you can’t fail. Each class is seven weeks and it goes by so fast. They keep you on task and make sure you’re staying on top of things, but it’s spaced out to where you don’t feel overloaded or bombarded. I’m excited and I’m doing pretty well.”
Farris says education has always been important in her family. Her grandmother was a high school teacher. Her aunt, who told her about the UTC program, works at Cleveland State Community College. Her mother is a nurse.
Figuring out what she wanted to do in life didn’t come quick or easy. Starts and stops came a lot.
She says she finally found her niche after joining BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee in 2011. Along with giving her stability, it has her thinking of advancement opportunities.
“Blue Cross is a great company to work for and there are so many directions that I can go in,” she says. “This is a good place to be, but I also need some type of formal education to move up the ladder.
“Not having a degree is only going to take me so far, in my opinion. So having this degree will put me in those positions to get there.”
If she stays on schedule, taking a class every seven weeks, Farris is on pace to graduate in 2023. A year away, yes, but it’s also as close as she’s ever been.
“Now that I’ve kind of found it, I guess you can say I’m not stopping until I get my degree,” she says. “I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it feels good.
“After all these years, it will be nice to finally finish. It’s definitely something that I have wanted for myself for a very long time. I feel like I’m finally going to get there.”