Alison Strickland lives in Winston-Salem and works full time in Mount Airy, North Carolina. Her employer, Renfro Corporation, is a global leader in the design, manufacturing and marketing of legwear in North America.
But Strickland isn’t new to NC State. She earned her undergraduate degree in Textile and Apparel Management from the Wilson College of Textiles in 2010.
Right after graduation, Strickland entered the workforce.
“I was ready to start experiencing the working world of textiles,” Strickland said. But after four years at a previous employer, Strickland was out of a job. The plant closed and Strickland recalled the event as “a major wake-up call.”
“I knew that my undergraduate degree, combined with my four years of work experience, made me a good and competitive employee. Yet in today’s market, it still took me a couple months to find new employment,” Strickland explained.
Once she landed a new job, Strickland shared her desire to earn her master’s degree with one of her managers, who encouraged her to return to school.
“I always had the goal of obtaining my master’s degree at some point,” Strickland said. “Since I received my undergraduate degree from NC State’s Wilson College of Textiles to me, there was really no question of where I would apply to pursue my master’s degree,” she added.
Strickland said having a strong love for her Wolfpack family and being in the textile industry for more than five years also helped make the decision to apply to the online master’s program easier.
Strickland enrolled in the online textiles program in Fall 2016 and has been balancing school and work ever since.
“It is such a great and convenient way for full-time workers to still achieve their education goals,” Strickland said. “I am so grateful that I work for a company who values time and life outside of the workspace,” she added.
Strickland has always felt part of her course discussions despite being miles away from campus.
“I participate in online forum discussions related to a certain topic. This open communication has helped me to read and understand other people’s perspective on the textile industry which, in turn, challenges me to think differently and be more appreciative of other people’s thoughts and ideas,’ Strickland explained. “This interaction also reminds me that I am not alone in this pursuit which can sometimes feel like the case when doing the program completely online,” Strickland added.
Strickland, who expects to complete the online master’s program in December 2019, believes her additional education will further her career. In fact, she was recently promoted to Research and Development Project Manager at Renfro.
“I strongly believe that the education I received from my undergraduate as well as the current graduate education I am pursuing, are strong factors in me receiving a promotion,” Strickland said. She also summed up her online experience with a quote from Harry Potter and author J.K. Rowling, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.”
“Just replace Hogwarts with NC State, specifically the Wilson College of Textiles,” Strickland said. “It is reassuring to know that help is always there if and when I need it, even though I may not be physically on campus or get to have face-to-face interaction with people on a regular basis,” she added.