Online Business Administration at Lees-McRae helped senior Andrea Brawley “dream a new dream”

There is a quote by motivational speaker Les Brown that senior Online Business Administration major Andrea Brawley often references back to: “Our ability to handle life’s challenges is a measure of our strength of character.”

“That quote stuck to me because life really gave me a lot of lemons and I turned them into sweet red apples,” Brawley said. “No matter what life has thrown at me I have managed to overcome all obstacles.”

Throughout her time in the online Business Administration program at Lees-McRae, Brawley has been faced with personal challenges, but she has encountered even more successes. From accomplishing her dream of earning a bachelor’s degree, to landing a position working in veteran affairs for the federal government, to closing on her first home, to being accepted to continue her education in the Master of Public Administration program at East Carolina University, today Brawley has no shortage of sweet red apples in her life.

Prior to enrolling at Lees-McRae, Brawley earned an associate degree in criminal justice from a local community college, but after graduating and giving birth to her son, her interests began shifting toward a career in human resources. Armed with a goal of helping others and a desire to succeed, Brawley decided to take the next step toward achieving that goal and enrolled in the Lees-McRae Business Administration program online.

“I had to dig deep, and I had to find out how to become an HR personnel. An associate degree is not going to do it, you have to go further and gain experience,” Brawley said. “I just thought that Business Administration would be a cool major because I’m learning the structure of a business, and as an HR personnel it’s important to learn the structure of the business because it helps with retention.”

When she learned about Lees-McRae at an informational presentation given by Assistant Director for Online Enrollment Services Caroline Cope, Brawley was immediately interested in the college’s unique outdoor activities, impressive faculty, U.S. News and World Report credentials, and flexible online options. As a single mother with a job, Brawley said that flexibility was key to being able to pursue this next step in her education and career.

Brawley currently works as a legal administrative specialist for the United States Department of Veterans Affairsa role she said has been invaluable in showing her the ropes of the federal government and in giving her an introduction to benefits administrationbut she hopes to use her new bachelor’s degree to pivot into human resources. This desire was strengthened when she completed an HR internship for the Business Administration program in Davidson, North Carolina.

“I was an HR intern for about eight weeks from September to December 2023. It was an awesome experience, and that’s what drove me even more to pursue my career in HR. For the most part you’re helping people and changing someone’s life,” Brawley said. “I remember one day I picked up the phone per my HR director, and I basically hired someone. That was the greatest feeling in the world because I know what it feels like on the other side. I know what it feels like to answer that phone and get a phone call from HR and hear, ‘hey, we want to hire you,’ or ‘hey, we want to conduct an interview.’ I know I changed that person’s life forever and made an impact on that person’s life forever.”

She said that the skills, experiences, and knowledge she is gaining through the college’s Business Administration online program will help her take this next step. Now that she is approaching the end of her time in the program, she said she is confident in her ability to handle life’s challenges and achieve her ultimate career goals.

Throughout each new challenge and each new chapter, Brawley said she has been able to stay motivated and keep her eyes on the prize thanks to her son and the strength that he gives her every day. Looking forward, she hopes that by achieving her own goals she can set an example for her son to work hard and never be scared to “dream a new dream.”

“This program impacted my personal life and my life as a student for the better. It’s going to help me get to where I need to be in life. This online program is the best program in the world to me, and if I could do this all over again I would. I would recommend this program to anyone else out there who is looking for a way out or wants better in life. Lees-McRae College is the college to go to. It was a great experience,” Brawley said. “Every time I look back at all my goals, all my life experiences, I’m like, ‘Wow, this is amazing, and I overcame all of these obstacles and am still here, 10 toes down.’ I’m tired a little bit, but I’m still here.”

By Maya JarrellApril 12, 2024
Online LearningAcademics