Pipsmy Phimmachack was scared to go back to school. At 18, she enrolled in a traditional on-campus program, but never finished. Unsure of what path to pursue, she began working in the healthcare industry in her 20s and spent years as a certified nursing assistant and rehabilitation technician. Convinced she found her passion – helping people heal – she decided to invest in her career by finishing her college degree.
The Pennsylvania native considered earning a nursing degree or going back to school to become a physical therapy assistant before realizing she wanted to help people overcome mental illness rather than treating physical injuries.
Because Phimmachack was working full-time, she began reviewing online programs with the original intent of transferring to a college campus. She decided Florida Tech’s online degree program would allow her to achieve her educational goals without suffering any setbacks at work. She didn’t know what to expect in a virtual classroom, so she was surprised by the flexibility and structure, which influenced her decision not to transfer to a campus.
In 2017, at 25, Phimmachack graduated with a BA in Applied Psychology. She is proud of the goal she has achieved and says her family and Florida Tech supported her and motivated her to succeed. Today, she credits her degree for helping her land a position with a human services company close to home and inspiring her to continue her higher education journey by earning a Master’s Degree in Psychology in the near future.
“After working hard and receiving my degree with Florida Tech, I honestly feel like I can accomplish anything,” Phimmachack said.
Learn more about Phimmachack’s online learning experience, motivations and plans for her future.
Q. What were the most important factors in your decision to choose Florida Tech?
The flexibility and the support system are the most important factors I found from Florida Tech. School has always been a priority in my family, and when I decided to take a break, I felt as if I failed my family. So, going back to school was nerve-wracking for me since I haven’t been in it for almost three years. Florida Tech expressed how supportive they are and how they can help me achieve my educational goals. That support was what kept me glued in.
Q. What surprised you most about taking an online program?
To be honest, before Florida Tech I was not a fan of online programs. But, I worked full-time and found going back to a classroom setting would be too much for me. So, I decided that I would take a few online classes to start off then transfer to on campus. I wanted that classroom interaction, but I didn’t want to rush to get there. After my first term online with Florida Tech, I was surprised to have both flexibility and structure. I was relieved to have the flexibility to be in school full-time while also working full-time. I was surprised that I enjoyed the structure that came with the online program. What kept me on track week by week were the due dates for assignments, discussions, and the responses.
Q. What was your favorite class and why?
My favorite class was Sports Psychology. Prior to this course, I had no idea such a class and field existed. I was recommended to this class by my student services representative. He felt the course would benefit me as I was going through personal struggles at the time. I was going through the recovery after having ACL and lateral meniscus surgery. I had a difficult time healing physically because I wasn’t emotionally or mentally stable. The Sports Psychology class honestly saved me. And what I mean by that is it saved my spirit. It opened my eyes and helped me see the positive things in life. The course provided me an understanding of the importance of mental, emotional and physical health.
Q. What was your most valuable takeaway from the program?
The unconditional support I received from my representatives, Brooks and Coop. Not only were these two great representatives, but they are also real people who actually care about others’ success. There were countless times I doubted myself when working and doing school at the same time. Life happens, and many stressors occurred. I wanted to quit several times, but I didn’t because I had strong support from my representatives. They never turned their backs away from me. They were always positive, understanding, and real with me. That was the most valuable takeaway I received from the entire program.
Pipsmy live at graduation with her student services representative.
Q. What was the most challenging part of your student journey?
The most challenging part was balancing between work and school. It was reassuring to learn that I wasn’t the only one going through that challenge. When you’re in an online program, you’re part of a community of people who also go through several challenges to reach their educational goals.
Q. What advice would you give other students who are considering enrolling in the program?
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to be honest with your professors and representatives. Even though the majority of communication will be via phone or on the computer, the support is there from Florida Tech. It really is. Whether you’re freshly new to college or have been out of the game for a while, Florida Tech makes every student feel they are worth it.
Q. Who or what inspires you to succeed?
My family has always been an inspiration to me. I grew up listening to how my mom, aunt, and uncles moved to the United States from Thailand when they were very young. My mom was only 13 years old when she came to the United States. There was definitely a language barrier and culture shock. Despite all the hardship, my family became successful. They went to college and now live comfortable lives. My mom is the hardest worker I know on this planet. While she did not go to college, she has always encouraged her kids to take education seriously. She didn’t have the opportunities like my siblings and I do. She always wanted us to work hard and be the best we could be. Her unconditional love and determination to raise three kids as a single mother have always motivated me to make her proud.