It took Tim Fackenthall a while to come around to the idea of attending college. Three degrees later, he earns a living working in higher education.
"I wasn't super academically inclined when I graduated from high school," he said. "When I originally went to college, I was pushing 30 and planned on only going for my associate degree. Then, a counselor told me, 'You should transfer and get a four-year degree.'"
Fackenthall didn't hesitate to heed that good advice. After graduating from Spokane Community College (SCC) with an associate degree in 2011, he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in economics and a Master of Business Administration from Eastern Washington University. Fackenthall plans to walk in the June 2019 commencement ceremony.
"After I did the bachelor's degree, it went well and I felt positive about it," he said. "I decided to see how far I could take it and go for the master's degree, as well."
Fackenthall has been a human resources consultant for Community Colleges of Spokane, which also includes Spokane Falls Community College, for more than four years. He chose EWU largely based on recommendations from his instructors in the associate degree program.
"Getting to know the faculty members during my undergraduate program excited me, because I knew some of them also teach in the graduate program," Fackenthall said. "It was an awesome experience with student services, advising and the instructors. It was pretty much a no-brainer to go back for my master's degree at Eastern."
After enrolling in the associate degree program at Spokane Community College in 2007, Fackenthall entered a work/study program as a human resources assistant for Community Colleges of Spokane.
"It was a great office," he said. "I worked for a lot of great people who were extremely knowledgeable and friendly. I kept working there and worked my way up. By the time I finished my undergraduate degree, I saw that I liked what I did in my HR position."
That's why Fackenthall, who grew up in Spokane, especially enjoyed the MGMT 471: Multinational People Management course taught by Jameel Hasan in the MBA program.
"It was interesting because he's been in the field for 50 years and is very current," Fackenthall said. "It wasn't like getting a textbook HR experience. He was using real-world examples that had happened within the last couple of weeks of how international HR is playing out."
The rest of the courses in the MBA curriculum were also applicable to Fackenthall's career.
"Even applying international philosophies of how to treat employees and how all of the different benefit packages play a part in employee engagement are useful to me as a human resources consultant," he said. "The MBA program helps in building relationships with your co-workers
Although Fackenthall completed the MBA program only recently, he is already seeing its impact on his future.
"The next step is going for my certification as an HR professional this fall," he said. "I can get the senior level certification quicker, instead of having to spend extra years doing HR, because of the graduate degree. It helped me bypass and cycle through quicker."
Fackenthall has had plenty of support from his wife, Micki, and children, Morgyn (11) and Logan (6), throughout his higher education experience.
"They were excited," he said. "Most of my family wished I had gone to college right out of high school. It's helpful to my wife and kids because it has given me more opportunity to increase their quality of living."<
Additionally, Fackenthall is setting an example of the importance of higher education for his children. He is the first person in his immediate family to earn a college degree.
"My daughter was born around the time I started school," he said. "She has basically been watching me go to school her whole life. We tell her, 'We are teaching you this now so that when you go to college, this is how you're going to apply it.'
"It's helpful for her to visualize how she can navigate college in the future and use it to her advantage. We do homework together every night. It's building those good habits."
Although Fackenthall earned his degrees at EWU on campus, he took several online courses at SCC and enjoyed the experience and flexibility.
"Online or on campus, I suggest making the time to understand the material," he said. "There's a difference between getting a degree and actually learning the skills they're trying to teach you. It requires a lot more commitment being in an online program because you're more responsible for yourself to put in the time."
Now that Fackenthall holds a master's degree, he believes the future is wide open and full of opportunities.
"I would love, at some point, to be at the C-suite level," he said. "Our chief administrative officer had a similar trajectory. He started out in HR and was the chief human resources officer. Now, he's over three major divisions of the district. The MBA will absolutely open doors for me."
This time, Fackenthall won't hesitate to answer when opportunity knocks.
Learn more about the EWU online MBA program.
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