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Alumni Spotlight: Andrea Bonner (MPS ’19)

Andrea BonnerTaking advantage of LIM’s Fashion Educators Grant to cover 50% of her tuition, Andrea earned a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degree in the Business of Fashion from LIM in 2019. When Andrea started her full-time online grad program, she was teaching fashion-related courses at Houston Community College (HCC). Since earning her master’s degree, Andrea has been promoted to Chair of HCC’s Consumer Arts & Sciences department.

What was your background prior to teaching fashion?
I have a Bachelor of Business Administration in Strategic Management and Organizational Development from the University of North Texas. I worked for years in marketing and sales, then transitioned into fashion, opening my own styling and image consulting business and working in retail/retail management.

How did you learn about LIM’s Fashion Educators Grant?
A friend who was an adjunct instructor in our department suggested I go to LIM. She knew my schedule and knew that LIM offered an online option to complete a master’s degree.

I put it off initially because of cost. But in August of 2018, I started doing more research. The Business of Fashion program caught my eye. After a conversation with someone in Admissions, I was told about a new grant program for educators seeking an advanced degree: the Fashion Educators Grant. I saw this as a sign. My application fee was waived and the admission process was smooth.

What was your learning experience like?
My learning experience was intense, but I loved every minute of it! It was a little hard initially going from being an instructor to a student, but I quickly adjusted. I was probably the oldest one in most of my classes, but I enjoyed engaging with my peers and learned a lot from their perspective.

How were you able to balance your professional responsibilities with your studies?
Coffee – lots of coffee! My friends and family knew my deadline days and knew not to bother me on those days. I still sometimes wake up thinking that I have a Wednesday or Sunday night deadline!

During any spare time I had, I used it to read, do discussion assignments or replies, and research. I had very little spare time, but I finished the program in a little less than a year because I remained focused. I loved the online program because it allowed me to finish quickly.

What knowledge from your MPS program have you been able to take back to the students you teach?
One thing we don’t have in our current program is vast information on Supply Chain. I took the class because I knew I needed to learn more about it. It turned out to be one of my favorite classes and I was able to incorporate some of that knowledge into my lectures. I hope to integrate a supply chain course into the program in the near future. I also learned a lot about branding and sustainability, which I think needs to be focused on more in all fashion programs.

Andrea BonnerHow has earning your master’s degree impacted your career path?
Earning my master’s degree has certainly impacted my career path. The Chair position became available during my last two terms at LIM so I was able to leverage my new degree to assist me in securing my new role.

How would you have financed your education were it not for the Fashion Educators grant?
The Fashion Educator’s Grant was the main determining factor that led me to pursuing my advanced degree with LIM. I did take out a loan to finance the remainder, but I can pay it off quicker, and without a huge burden of debt. The grant is a huge incentive and I would encourage others to take advantage of this amazing benefit.

What advice would you give other fashion educators who are considering applying to LIM’s MPS program?
I would tell them to go for it! If you were waiting on a sign, this is it! I completed my program in less than a year, taking two classes per term. That was pretty intense, teaching 5 classes on top of that. You can still complete your program in less than two years, even if you take one class per term. The curriculum is relevant, the instructors knowledgeable, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Pace yourself and come up with a routine for studying and doing assignments. It takes a bit of discipline, but once you’ve completed that first term, you should have it down. I’m also happy to talk to anyone about it one-on-one if they have further questions. I’m a proud LIM alumna and am so grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to receive my degree with the help of the Fashion Educators Grant.