#SHRM18 Expo Vendor Spotlight: Q&A with Forbes School of Business and Technology at Ashford University



As many others in our HR Tribe, I’m looking forward to using the Expo Hall at #SHRM18 to evaluate potential resources in expanding my world – specifically so with higher education. I’m sure I’m not alone in aspiring to continue walking the path as a lifelong learner, but doing so while juggling a full-time job, supporting our professional association, keeping up with family and friends, and supervising two very rambunctious fur babies keeps my calendar more than full. Distance education can sometimes be the best option to pursue for many of us looking to keep all those plates spinning and still continue our educational journey, making institutions like Forbes School of Business and Technology at Ashford University a prime candidate for further Expo Hall evaluation. During this Q&A, a few of the kind folks at Forbes School of Business and Technology at Ashford University took some time out of their own busy schedules to share key information in jumpstarting your research before hitting the Expo Hall floor.

1. Education is valuable, but often quite costly and can be difficult to justify the considerable expense. What sets you apart from other educational institutions exhibiting at SHRM 18?

Ashford University offers a variety of payment options for students from financial aid to cash to tuition reimbursement options. One area that we’re really developing is our education partnerships with organizations, large and small, around the country. Michael Rolnick, Vice President of Education Partnerships, explains, “Ashford University is an innovator when it comes to providing employers and their employees with educational opportunities. Ashford partners with an organization to offer the Full Tuition Grant which works with the company’s tuition assistance program to cover student costs. As part of the program, employees agree not to receive student financial aid while in the program. As a result, the employee is able to pursue a degree and doesn’t incur any new student loan debt.” Additionally, Ashford offers the Tuition Benefit program in which Ashford works with an organization to establish reductions and waivers on tuition and other fees for employees seeking a degree. 

2. What types of HR professionals are best suited for your programs? Do you have a target audience in mind that thrives while enrolled in your programs?

The students who thrive in Ashford’s programs are those who thrive in their lives. They are working adults who have their goals set on achieving their degree in order to have the career they want, while not giving up their quality of life. People with the kind of dedication to balance work, school, family, and other responsibilities are Ashford students. Dr. Katie Thiry, Program Chair at Ashford University, gets more specific, “The Master of Human Resource Management and Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources Management degree programs at Ashford serve professionals in a wide range of industries, but they are most appropriate for anyone who seeks to become proficient in human resources, gain a well-rounded and robust education in HR, and who would like to do so with the flexibility and convenience of an online program.” 

3. What would our attendees be most surprised to learn about your programs?

Conference attendees may be surprised to learn that the University has an official SHRM chapter. Dr. Katie Thiry explains, “Both the bachelor’s and master’s human resource management degree programs, housed within Ashford’s Forbes School of Business & Technology, sponsor an official Society for Human Resource Management Chapter that is offered FREE to current students, faculty, and AU alum. This virtual chapter of SHRM is organized for and led by students who have an interest in issues and topics related to HR. Chapter members connect on their LinkedIn group page to network with industry professionals, access educational webinars, and join networking events.”  

4. What advice do you have for potential students looking to continue their education while evaluating the right program and institution for them?

Michael Rolnick offers, “Conference attendees may be surprised to learn that Ashford’s population of corporate students, those who are taking advantage of the Full Tuition Grant or the Tuition Benefit, is one of the fastest-growing in higher education.” 

“The business world changes quickly and no matter where you choose to study, you will want to stay connected and up to date,” begins Dr. Katie Thiry. “HRM students have several options where they can go to network, access professional development opportunities, and locate up-to-date resources. I recommend prospective students look for an HRM degree program that encourages them to engage in activities outside of the classroom and provides opportunities to expand their professional network.”

5. Do you have a fun or unique recent success story about one of your graduates that you’d like to share?

Dr. Katie Thiry happily shared the excerpt below from a blog post describing the experience of a remarkable group of Ashford alum who became known as the 3 Scholars (full blog post here).

“Despite the miles between us as distance learners, we three Ashford graduate students—Gerri Wilson, Tanisha Neal, and Myke McCune—became classmates, colleagues, and friends. The three of us were brought together by Dr. Katie Thiry’s class, when she was inspired to start the Ashford University student chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). We, along with Dr. Thiry, recruited students and are proud to be the founding officers of the Ashford University Forbes School of Business & Technology™ SHRM chapter.

The three of us were scheduled to attend commencement in San Diego on May 22, 2017 and began to call ourselves the 3 Scholars. Commencement would be the first time all of us met in person, so to commemorate the exciting occasion, we decided to get together for a barbecue before the ceremony. Unfortunately, Tanisha was unable to attend commencement in the end, and Dr. Thiry was held up in meetings. Nevertheless, two of the 3 Scholars—Gerri and Myke—brought our families together, and it was almost as if it were a family reunion.

While commencement was an amazing experience, there was a little bit of sadness in the air as both Tanisha and Dr. Thiry missed out on all of the commencement weekend festivities. In a matter of weeks, “Commencement Do-Over” would become an executable plan. The idea was to recreate commencement to allow Tanisha (alongside Gerri and Myke) to “walk” in full graduation regalia as Dr. Thiry called out our names and handed out the diplomas to the roaring cheers from our families. We are thrilled for this exciting get-together to take place on Labor Day weekend 2017 in the beautiful Palmetto State of South Carolina. The reunion and commencement were a hit, inspiring a contest to allow other student friendships to meet at future commencement ceremonies.

We were thrilled to dive deeper in learning about one of SHRM 18’s Expo Hall super stars! We are so appreciative of the time and consideration from Dr. Katie Thiry and Michael Rolnick in participating in this Q&A session with us. Be sure to check out Forbes School of Business and Technology at Ashford University as you wander through the Expo Hall and visit Booth #3946!


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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