Kat Pearthree earns the degree she always wanted with Capella

For years, Kat Pearthree*, an assistant social worker for Genesis Healthcare, tried to find a way to go back to school. “I have an undergraduate degree in social work and I’ve always worked in skilled nursing,” Kat said. “I knew I wanted my master’s, but money, time, and energy always held me back.” She tried several schools throughout her career, but none was a good fit. Then, in the spring of 2019, she called Capella University.

“I’d been watching Capella for about three years,” she explained. “When the Capella social work program was accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, it got my attention. I spoke to an admissions counselor who talked me through how quickly I may complete my degree. She walked me through what I would need to do each quarter.” That plan, combined with discounts available to her through Genesis Healthcare, convinced Kat to enroll in the Master of Social Work program.

Kat has completed two quarters of her program as well as a residency. She said the process of being in school and working has been relatively easy for her. “I’ve been so energized by this entire process—and my employer really wants this degree for me, so they’ve provided flexibility.” While she was initially hesitant about online coursework, she’s changed her mind since starting her program. “The orientations gave me a lot of confidence,” she explained. “That being said, I did fail my first assignment. But I immediately had so much support. My professor called me and set up a time to tutor me. My academic coach talked me through format and expectations.

By the next two or three papers, I was getting it. I feel that I’ve learned way more as an online learner than I ever would have in a classroom setting. I never felt like I had to go it alone.” Kat said she’s already using what she’s learned in her classes and during her residency in her role at Genesis. “I’m more process oriented as opposed to task oriented,” she said. “And I’m able to practice new communication techniques, like active listening and feedback. In my residency we role played, which made me self-conscious at first, but then I realized how helpful it is. It’s helped me to be a much more relaxed professional.”

Her advice to other professionals who are considering a return to school, is to consider all the options out there. “I think there can still be a lot of focus on the traditional classroom model,” Kat said. “But I wouldn’t be where I am now without Capella. This is the first time I’ve thought ‘I’ve got this,’ when it comes to getting this degree. My advice is to imagine the possibilities.”

*Actual Capella learner who agreed to appear in promotional materials for Capella