Robbin Awn isn’t your typical graduate student. A mother of two and grandmother of one, the 57-year-old became a first-generation college graduate in 2020. She began her college career in 1995 and completed two years toward a bachelor’s degree before leaving the world of academics.
Since then, Robbin has worked as a bartender, personal trainer and dance teacher. After her children were grown, she returned to college, earning an undergraduate degree in psychology from Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado. But Robbin has never been one to quit while she’s ahead:
“I did not want to stop after I got my bachelor’s degree, and when the pandemic continued, I thought this was a great time to get my master’s degree.”
So, Robbin applied for and was accepted into the online Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) program through Florida Tech.
“From the beginning of my journey,” she recalls, “I could see how what I learned applies to my personal and professional life.”
What is the MAOL Program?
Florida Tech’s 100% online MAOL program prepares students for dynamic leadership in all types of organizations. It’s a people-focused program that goes beyond business theory to help students guide, inspire and motivate team members at all levels.
The program is geared toward leadership in today’s hyper-connected multicultural world. The MAOL curriculum includes core courses like:
- Ethics in Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility
- Leading Diverse Teams
- High Impact Communication
- Leadership in a Global Context
It’s not your standard business program. In fact, unlike a Master of Business Administration, it’s not even based out of a business school. Florida Tech offers the MAOL through its College of Psychology and Liberal Arts.
The choice is intentional. Basing the program in a liberal arts college lets Florida Tech focus on the psychological and social factors that drive organizations. Students learn about the deeply human influences on motivation, productivity, teamwork and autonomy.
There’s also a strong focus on cultural competency and how diversity affects modern organizations. As a socially conscious person who values community diversity, Robbin has felt right at home in this setting.
What made you choose the MAOL program?
Above all, Robbin wants to make a difference in the lives of others:
“The leadership program perfectly fits my personality, values, and future career goals. Observing social injustices within organizations motivated me to drive positive change through education, sharing with others what I have learned and facilitating change to promote diversity and inclusion for the good of future generations.”
As Robbin looks to the future, she sees herself making a difference by educating others. She hopes to impact future generations by promoting the kind of diversity and inclusion that engages new voices, creates momentum and facilitates change.
What challenges have you faced as an online student, and what has helped you overcome them?
Although some might call her a “nontraditional” student, Robbin believes otherwise:
“I am no different than any other new college graduate; I am just trying to find my way to the job that gives me purpose. When I doubt myself, I look to family and friends for support to remind me that everything will work out and that I need to keep moving forward one class at a time. I laughed and told my success coach I had turned in assignments in the Starbucks parking lot during my lunch break, had many late nights followed by early mornings, and some tears might have been along the way.
But for Robbin, it’s all been worth it. “I can do anything I set my mind to,” she says, “and so can you!”
Where do you see your Florida Tech education taking you?
Robbin plans to pursue a career in talent management, ideally in the environmental conservation space. “I love being outdoors in nature and would live on a paddleboard if possible,” she shares.
As a graduate of the MAOL program, Robbin envisions herself driving change in others who love nature:
“The sky is the limit, and I would like to pursue a career in talent management, motivating others, managing change and transferring information while leading with diversity and inclusion as a number one priority. With the strong foundation I have obtained, working in environmental conservation organization to educate others and prevent further damage to the planet is my passion and mission.”
What inspires you to succeed?
As Robbin works toward her degree, this vision for the future keeps her moving forward:
“I want to make the world a better place by showing compassion, listening and sharing ideas to promote diversity and inclusion while saving the planet.”
It’s no small goal, but Robbin is up to it, thanks to the support she receives from her community.
Who has been your support system at Florida Tech, and how have they helped you?
Having experienced so many people and places, Robbin knows that no one does it alone. As she heads into her final year — she’s on track to graduate in April 2023 — she expresses gratitude to her family, friends and professors.
Robbin also extends a special thank you to Jason Carey, her student success coach at Bisk.
What is a Student Success Coach?
As a Florida Tech partner, Bisk supports online programs and students throughout their academic journey. Student Success Coaches play a vital role in this process, helping students stay engaged and succeed in their online program.
“Jason has been dependable, consistent and encouraging throughout my time at Florida Tech,” says Robbin. “I felt that I could trust and depend on him to regularly check on me to see how I was doing, if I needed help with anything and make sure I was on track to succeed.”
How Does Student Success Coaching Work?
Since she enrolled in the MAOL program, Jason has called her regularly with reminders and check-ins. He reminds her when an enrollment deadline is approaching, helps her find her textbooks and offers general check-ins to see how she’s progressing.
“We have gotten to know each other over the phone, and I know he is proud of my achievements,” Robbin says. “Having that support is essential to my success and helps keep me motivated.”
Who do you think should apply to the MAOL program, and what advice would you give to help them succeed?
Robbin is grateful for Florida Tech’s commitment to the future. She believes MAOL students and faculty can bring about change for future generations, making the world a better place one lesson at a time.
“I would recommend the programs to people who want to make a positive difference through collaboration, humility and diversity of ideas to bring about change that will benefit future generations,” says Robbin. “This Organizational Leadership program allows you to examine your values, find what gives you purpose and put your principles into ethical actions that help the whole rather than the few.”
To anyone considering the program, Robbin says:
“My advice to anyone considering the program is to stand your ground, don’t give up and remember doing the right thing is not usually the easiest path, but it is worth it!”
What have you learned about yourself from this experience?
Since starting the program, Robbin has felt herself become more confident academically and professionally, but there has been a bigger change she appreciates even more.
“More importantly, my knowledge has helped me communicate better with my family and friends,” she says. “Learning to recognize my own biases and be open to others’ opinions has made me more effective as a parent, grandmother, co-worker and friend.”
Florida Tech is honored to have Robbin as well.