Gladys Lopez isn’t your traditional student. She lives in Puerto Rico and English isn’t her first language. Also, she started her postgraduate journey at 49 years old.

Although Lopez had long dreamed of earning a master’s degree, she was apprehensive at first. It had been more than two decades since she earned her bachelor’s in Business Administration and she wasn’t sure how to accommodate classes with her full-time job selling health insurance.

“I really didn’t want to be in a classroom with youngsters … and I did not have the time to be in a classroom,” she recalled.

Despite these challenges, her husband, Armando, encouraged her to pursue her longtime goal.

So, she began looking for a program that incorporated business administration and healthcare, and found Florida Tech’s Master of Business Administration with a Specialization in Healthcare Administration, which is offered 100% online. Upon learning of Florida Tech’s regional accreditation, she knew it was the university for her.

While in the program, Lopez struggled due to not being “a computer whiz” and because English is not her main language.

Seeing that his wife was having trouble and losing faith, Armando planned a trip to Melbourne, Florida, to visit the Florida Institute of Technology campus. Gladys didn’t want to go at first – she was “fighting all the way,” wanting to turn back. But Armando wanted her to see the campus to renew her focus.

The experience invigorated her and she returned home determined to give her all in her classes.

“I have to admit that I was also proud of myself when my grades came in; I was doing a good job and continued until I finished!” she said.

When she had difficulty completing computer-based assignments, she reached out to her classmates and professors for help.

“The professors were very qualified, competent and responsible,” she said.

Lopez also cites the support of her enrollment representative Soleil Pierre, “who, with her calls and perseverance, cheered me from class to class, registered me on time and I received all my materials on time.”

After the hard work and the tears, Lopez overcame adversity and accomplished her dream. She returned to Melbourne in December 2014 to receive her diploma.

Her advice to anyone else with a similar goal?

“Take the first step and do it.” 

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