Charting Her Own Path
T’Aira Duncan was at a crossroads in her career. Prior to the pandemic, she served as Manager, Collective Operations at Teach For America, a role that involved an extensive amount of travel. Once many people began working from home to slow the spread of Covid-19, T’Aira knew that the business travel she loved might not return for some time. She began to evaluate her career options.
“I knew that things post-Covid would look different,” said Duncan. “I started thinking about how I would move forward. I knew that education would be part of my plan, so I started looking into options for master’s degrees and professional certificates.”
That’s when Duncan found CobbWorks, a resource that provides access to a system of employment and education services in our community. Through their program, she learned about the Project Management Certificate at the College of Graduate and Professional Education at KSU.
“I looked over the certificate program, and it aligned with what I wanted to do,” said Duncan. I also have a toddler, so it was helpful to take the course online. The live format ensured that I would be able to fully pursue the course material from home.”
The Online Live format offers more than a traditional online course. Students tune into the live class, and are able to interact with the instructor and class participants in the same way they would if they were attending the course in-person.
Support Along the Way
From logistics to instruction, Duncan found the support she needed throughout the 12-week course.
“The program manager and the instructor were both excellent,” said Duncan. As professionals, we were set up for success. The students in the course were from varying career backgrounds, but we all knew what to expect because the instructor was great at teaching the course concepts and making sure we had everything we needed. When I was taking my final, my screen blacked out, and the program manager at KSU was very responsive. It happened outside of business hours over the weekend, and she guided me through that issue to ensure that my exam was submitted and accounted for. In all areas of the course, I felt fully supported.”
Landing a New Role
After completing the Project Management Certificate course, Duncan started an exciting new position as Chief of Staff at The Lovett School. Her role entails supporting the Head of School, managing executive office staff, strategic planning, project management, executive-level advising, and fostering interdepartmental collaboration.
“This is a new role at the school, so I’m making my own way,” said Duncan. “This certificate was instrumental in helping me attain this new role.”
Duncan’s next goal is to sit for the PMP® Certification Exam. The hours from the course, combined with her work experience, will help her meet the requirements to take the exam.
Advice for Future Students
Duncan has encouraging advice for anyone considering the Project Management Certificate.
Be clear on how you will incorporate what you learn into your professional life,” said Duncan. “The course is tough, so you’ll need to evaluate your current situation in relation to your end goal. Remind yourself why you wanted to take the course, and how it will help you elevate your career in the future. Center your efforts around your personal “why,” and you will succeed.”
Duncan’s “why” was clear.
“As a professional, working mother, I was looking to elevate my career during a global pandemic with my daughter in tow,” said Duncan. “This – and everything else – I do is for her. I’m forever grateful to Cobb Works and KSU’s College of Graduate and Professional Education for this opportunity.”