Why UMN Crookston is the 'M' for Me Q&A with Mikayla McKivergan (online student)

Tell us about yourself, your family, your location, etc.

My name is Mikayla McKivergan. I reside in Scituate, Rhode Island with my husband, Thomas, and my 13-year-old daughter, Maggie. 

Mikayla McKivergan and her family

Tell us about your work experiences to this point. If you are currently working, please share how you fit higher education into your life while maintaining a job.

Currently I work for Moderna Therapeutics (yes, the COVID vaccine Moderna) and I have been with the company for a little over a year now. Landing a position with Moderna is a big driving factor to me being back in school at this time. It was important to the company that I work towards my bachelor's degree, and they offer a tuition reimbursement program, so I found myself back in school shortly after beginning with Moderna. Previously I worked in Quality Assurance in consumer product testing for four years and prior to that I worked in Quality Control at a biotech company for five years. I received a Certificate in Biotechnology from the Community College of Rhode Island in 2011 and have since been interested in returning to school to complete my degree. While working full time and attending school can be difficult, I am finding that taking it slow and steady may be the best pace for me personally, and I am currently taking just one class at a time so that I am able to give my best to the one class I am taking and not spread myself too thin. Fortunately, I am not in any kind of time crunch in which I need to finish my degree, so I am finding one class at a time to work best for me to allow me time for relaxation and time with my family. 

Mikayla McKivergan and her family traveling to Gettysburg

Why did you choose the University of Minnesota and why is Crookston the ‘M’ for you? 

I chose the University of Minnesota Crookston as the college for me because I already have a professional background in Quality (QC and QA), so I was very interested in the Quality Management BMM program as it aligns with my background and my future career goals. It also sounded like a unique program, as I did not find many Quality Management programs to choose from in my search for schools, so it seemed like a perfect choice!

Tell us about your experiences at UMN Crookston so far – how are the classes and programs, what grade level are you, is it what you expected, etc. 

So far my experience at UMC has been fantastic! The process has been very simple in enrollment, choosing classes and feeling set up for success. My advisor has been extremely helpful and I didn't feel pushed into choosing UMC when I first requested more information, unlike with some other colleges that I looked into. This semester is my second semester at UMC. My first semester I took two classes and had a bit of a tough time balancing work, school and life, but I was able to complete the semester with a good grade in each class. This semester I decided to take one class to ensure myself some personal time and it has been much more comfortable to me and I feel that I can really commit myself to doing well in my one class. I don't feel that the classes have been overly difficult if you dedicate the time to completing the classwork and putting in the effort. It seems that if you make the effort, you will succeed and do well. Overall, I am also happy with the program so far, I feel that the content is very relevant to the degree and I have already learned so much and can make connections to my career in pharmaceutical manufacturing. I am currently an undergrad at part-time enrollment. So far, I have been very pleased with my experience at UMC and would definitely recommend UMC and the Quality Management BMM program to others!

What is your major? Have you had any previous college experiences before UMN Crookston? 

My major is Quality Management BMM and my previous college experience was receiving a Certificate in Biotechnology from CCRI (Community College of Rhode Island). After completing my certificate, I was able to enter the pharmaceutical industry as a Quality Control Technician at a pharmaceutical company producing orphan drugs. I was with the company for five years, during which I was promoted a couple of times, and later entered the consumer product testing industry in QA at CVS Health (our client) working for Underwriters Laboratory. 

What works well about your program? 

Mikayla McKivergan and her family traveling

I think that everything has worked well with my program so far! I am only in my third class needed to complete my program but I have been very happy with the staff and professors, I feel that help is always there if I need it, and I feel that I am set up for success to do well in my studies. 

How do you feel about online learning? How about before you started at UMN Crookston? 

I feel that online learning is a great option for working adults, particularly those who already have an established career and are interested in finding a way to further their education that works with their work/life schedule. Online learning with UMC has worked very well for me and I'm not sure if I would be able to attend school otherwise if not for online learning. It is critical to me that I am able to complete my studies on my own schedule, so this program at UMC has been perfect for me as I can work during the day, care for my family and find the time in my schedule to complete my schoolwork. 

What career aspirations do you have after you complete your degree? 

After I complete my degree I hope that I will still be with Moderna as I have very much liked working for the company and would like to continue my career there for the foreseeable future. I do hope that in the future I will move into a management position within the company and continue to climb the ladder. 

What would you tell other students who might be considering this or another program at UMN Crookston, or even higher education as a whole? 

I would tell other students that may be considering the program, or another program, or even higher education as a whole, that they should go for it! You only have one life, make the best of it, always continue working towards your goals, and do what makes you happy with yourself! It may seem intimidating to make the move and return to school, but I think that anyone can do it if they put their mind to it and pace themselves. I believe that is the key, don't overexert yourself and you will be more comfortable and be more likely to succeed in meeting your goal or dream. It is never too late in life to do something that you feel like will better yourself, your life, and your satisfaction with yourself. You can do it if you put your mind to it!