My name is Stacy Prodell,
and I am an office manager for Elite Smiles Dental. When I was in high school, I did
a work-based learning program in a dental office
and realized that that was where my passion was. I really enjoy helping
patients get over fears or not being confident
about their smiles. I had considered
going back to school to be a dental hygienist. However, I sat down
with one of the dentists that I had worked with for
many years, and he said to me, “Do you really think you want
to do the same thing every time you bring a patient back?” That is when I kind
of had my “aha” moment that I want to go into the
business end of dentistry. I knew that going back
and getting a degree would not only help me do my
job but also give me credibility that I was worthy of
new jobs, new positions, and new responsibilities. I was actually on
Facebook one day when an ad came up for the
University of Wisconsin Flexible Option Business
Administration degree, and that was 100% online. And I thought, I could do that. This is an option for me to be
able to get a bachelor’s degree and not disrupt my family
life, not disrupt my job, and get what I wanted without
sacrificing other things. The UW System was
a big draw for me. It was going to look good to my
employers or future employers. And I could guarantee
myself that I was going to get a credible degree. When I first had questions
before I signed up, my academic success coach was
there to answer them for me. She walked me through the
process of getting enrolled. She helped me with
scheduling classes. She was very integral
to me successfully getting through the
logistics of the program. I almost immediately
started applying what I was learning to my current job. I was able to pull an idea
from a previous experience I had in my business career
and then apply that to what I was learning currently. When you formally learned
how to manage situations, it makes you feel a lot
more confident in your job or even more confident
to say “I can do this.” One of my biggest
concerns going into this was how I would
juggle everything with having a full-time job
with a lot of responsibility, my husband having a full-time
job, an eight-year-old daughter, a house
to take care of. The most successful
way for me to make sure I got things
done on time was to make a schedule for myself. I would set due dates, and
then I would stick to that. The things that kept me going
were an incredible drive to get my bachelor’s degree,
but another big driving force was my daughter watching
me going through this. And I wanted to show her that
we aren’t limited by anything that other people put on us. We’re only limited by
what we have inside. I want to build her
up and make her aware that she can do anything. So I have to be
able to do anything. My work life has definitely been
affected by getting my degree. I feel that I have a
lot more credibility. I’ve been given more
responsibilities. Our owners come to
me asking questions about what I think about
different business decisions. If I had to give advice
to somebody looking at going into this
program, it would just be know that you have a hand
to guide you if you need it. It is so flexible, and it
is such an awesome program for people that have
full-time jobs and kids. But you have to have
that drive in you. You have to have that fire
that is making you want to do this and get it done. I’m glad that I’m the first UW
Flex Business Administration graduate. I can say it’s a great program. You get a lot of support
and a lot of help. It’s not impossible. You can do this.