Wednesday, November 14, 2012

MC’s baccalaureate degree . . . the road to success

By Rebecca Bell
Dean of Community Relations & Special Events

Rudy Ybarra is a hard-working family man who knows that education paves the way to career success and financial stability. The 37-year-old Andrews, Texas, native has been steadily pursuing training and higher education since he graduated from high school in 1993.

“After high school, I attended Odessa College for about a year and then I joined the Marine Corps,” explained Ybarra. “During the 4 years that I was in the Marine Corps, I began my career in information technology and was stationed in various locations working as a small computer systems specialist. When I left the Marines, I started working for a travel agency and then for a Fort Worth consulting firm that did contract work for Pioneer Natural Resources.”

Pioneer liked the work that Ybarra did and soon hired him as one of their own employees. Thirteen years later, Ybarra has held several information technology positions for Pioneer, both at their corporate headquarters in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and also in Midland. He has steadily climbed the career ladder and is now working in Midland as an Instrumentational Electronics Technician for Pioneer.

Ybarra credits one of the reasons for his career success to the fact that he has continued to take classes at Midland College (MC). In 2002, he graduated with an associate degree in information technology/networking. However, he didn’t stop there. In August 2012, Ybarra enrolled in MC’s upper-level organizational management program.

MC is one of only three community colleges in Texas that offer a baccalaureate degree. Ybarra is a prime example of why MC petitioned the state legislature to offer a bachelor of applied technology degree.

MC Special Advisor to the President Dr. Deana Savage, who administered the program for several years, said, “We saw a need for Midlanders to have an opportunity to receive baccalaureate degrees in the applied technology area. There are a great many people who receive MC associate degrees in career/technology fields and then obtain successful careers. However, we were hearing that in order to progress into management positions, they needed bachelor degrees. So, we have tailored our organizational management program for these people—West Texans who have an associate degree and are currently working as technicians. Most of them are like Rudy, older than traditional college age and have been successfully employed for several years.”

“I have applied for several managerial positions at Pioneer,” stated Ybarra. “While I’ve been told that I have the experience, I’ve haven’t been promoted because I don’t have a bachelor’s degree. I’ve realized that my career progression is at a standstill until I get that degree. Even though right now, the oil & gas industry is booming, I want to make sure that I have something to fall back on if the industry declines. With a bachelor’s degree in organizational management, I will have more career options available.”

Ybarra, who works 40+ hours per week said that MC’s baccalaureate program is flexible because classes are held at noon or in the evening and most of them are hybrid, which means that traditional classroom instruction is supplemented with online instruction.

“The courses are definitely challenging,” said Ybarra. “There’s a lot more critical thinking involved in these upper-level classes than in associate-level classes. It’s amazing how much I’ve already learned that can be applied to managerial and supervisory situations in my current job. The program is helping me gain crucial management skills.”

MC Associate Professor of Speech Katherine Allen said, “Rudy is a joy to have in class, always enthusiastic and excited about learning. He works hard and often finds ideas that can benefit his organization.”

“I’m glad that I am able to pursue this degree,” explained Ybarra. “I received my first degree from MC, and the skills I acquired definitely enabled me to further my career in information technology. Life is good—I have a great family (Ybarra is married and has three children); I’m employed by a wonderful company; and I’m taking classes from terrific instructors who really care about students and love their jobs. Midland College hasn’t let me down so far. I have faith in this school.”

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