student-stories

Determined Senior Tech Support Specialist Advances Career with UW Applied Computing Degree

Kaitlynn Martin May 9, 2019
Headshot of Samantha Thompson

As a child, Samantha Thompson was self-driven to learn and succeed in school. That inclination is still strong today. At 31 years old, she is in the middle of working toward an online University of Wisconsin Bachelor of Science in Applied Computing degree. Samantha credits her natural, hardworking characteristics as the main reason why she knew she could take on the responsibility of managing a full work schedule while going back to school.

In her role as a senior technical support specialist at J.J. Keller & Associates—a safety and regulatory compliance company that specializes in DOT, construction, human resources, and more—Samantha has overseen more than 10 of the company’s websites for workplace safety and HR tech support. Currently, she helps troubleshoot the KellerMobile app that logs hours of service for tractor-trailer drivers to stay in compliance with DOT safety regulations.

“I tend to take a holistic approach for all the products I support, so I wanted to advance my career into some sort of technical or computer science aspect,” Samantha said. “But, I could never find a program that I thought was accessible enough for my schedule.”

Motivated to take her next career step, Samantha searched for online degree programs that aligned with her career and personal needs.

Based on its curriculum and her employer’s tuition reimbursement program, UW Applied Computing came out on top.

Motivated and Supported to Achieve

Picture of Samantha Thompson

Today, about a year and a half into the program, Samantha has been able to connect coursework with her job responsibilities.

“I’ve found a lot of value in the APC 360: Database Management I course,” Samantha said. “I’m learning SQL, and it’s helping me in my current role as I look at diagnostics files for the mobile app I support.”

Whether she had questions about enrolling into classes or checking in on her course status, Samantha says she has received support from her student success coach and faculty members.

“My coach was extremely helpful in getting all of my enrollment paperwork filled out, and some of the applied computing faculty have even checked in with me to say I was doing a good job in courses,” Samantha said. “That has been really encouraging.”

All of this support is crucial for any online student, but it proved to be especially important for Samantha when she was just four weeks into the program. While navigating how to balance her work life and coursework, Samantha found out she had a rare form of ovarian cancer. Now, recovered and looking back on that experience, Samantha is proud of her perseverance through intense circumstances.

“I needed surgeries and a lot of medical appointments, and it was particularly stressful,” Samantha said. “But, I got all A’s that semester, and I was pretty happy I was able to do all of that.”

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Possibilities Ahead

If there’s one piece of advice that Samantha hopes to share with anyone who is considering to start his or her journey in the online UW Applied Computing program, it’s simple: Know yourself.

“You have to be very self-motivated,” Samantha said. “And, if you think you can have a better job with an applied computing degree, then go for it! What are you going to be doing in a year, anyway? You might as well have two semesters of classes under your belt and start working toward something you want to do.”

From thinking about applying to an online program, to researching and deciding, and now about halfway through her degree, Samantha is optimistic that she will move into a higher-level position at her company.

“I’m excited to go a bit farther in my career,” Samantha said. “I know I won’t just move up, but I will also succeed.”

Samantha has since graduated from the UW Applied Computing program and is now a developer at  J.J. Keller & Associates.

What’s Next?

Interested in learning more about the online University of Wisconsin Bachelor of Science in Applied Computing degree? Reach out to an enrollment adviser by calling 608-262-2011 or emailing learn@uwex.wisconsin.edu.

UW Bachelor of Science in Applied Computing is a collaboration of five UW System campuses. Samantha earned her degree from UW-Oshkosh.

Programs: Applied Computing