When Amanda Goucher came to Eastern Washington University (EWU) as an undergraduate, she was at a crossroads in her career.
“For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “After working for six years in an emergency room and seeing firsthand the inequitable care that was provided turned me away from the profession. Because it was something I thought I wanted to do for so long, I was lost.”
“The support of the professors at EWU was incredible,” she said. “The classes I took were so interesting. It helped me foster this passion for a larger mission that’s still in the medical field and aimed at changing the system to provide equitable care. That became a focal point for me.
“I wanted to push and better equip myself to tackle that kind of mission, so I started looking at master’s programs. The one thing needed everywhere … is a leader [and] having the right skills and the right mindset. That led me to this program.”
Goucher is a certifications program consultant at the American Heart Association in Oklahoma City. She did both degree programs, including her bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies, online.
“I had such a great experience with my bachelor’s degree,” she said. “I was so familiar with the ins and outs of the school. I found comfort in staying there for my master’s degree.”
She Got Game
Goucher grew up in the Seattle area, where she was a multi-sport athlete at Mount Rainier High School. Her passion for leadership extended beyond athletics and into the classroom. She graduated with an associate degree in psychology from Highline College in 2015.
After enrolling in EWU’s master’s degree program, she landed her current role after relocating to Oklahoma with her significant other. The online format helped make the transition smooth while she took two classes at a time.
“It’s been a grind but coupled with what I am learning in the program, having the tenacity to get it done amplified what I [took] away from it,” she said. “You can’t beat finishing a master’s degree in 10 months.”
Leadership For Social Justice was Goucher’s favorite course in the online M.S. in Organizational Leadership program curriculum.
“It paired my passions with what I was learning and gave me the sense I was in the right place, doing the right thing for myself to be able to serve the purpose I am trying to serve,” she said. “It motivated me to knock this degree out.”
The information that Goucher learned in the program applied to her career before and after she changed jobs. She feels that working toward her degree helped her land her current role.
“Whether it’s communication or managing workplace environments or strategic day-to-day tasks and how to best manage them, I am so grateful I [was] in this program,” she said. “I feel equipped to handle different things and new experiences that are going to come my way with the work I’ve done.”
Goucher is the first person in her immediate family to earn a master’s degree. She had plenty of encouragement from her family and friends along the way
“They’re excited,” she said. “They weren’t going to pressure me into doing anything professionally or academically, but my mom, Janise, has been a monumental cheerleader.
“The support has been incredible. Being in this kind of field, it could be my family member in a position of needing medical care. Connecting it back to my own life makes it come full circle.”
With a new career path and a master’s degree to boot, the future is wide open for Goucher, which is the way that she likes it.
“I don’t have an ultimate career goal in mind,” she said. “I am leaving it open. I am leading with my passion to see where it takes me.”
With the benefit of experience and hindsight, Goucher said that the biggest key to success as an online student is going in with an open mind.
“You have to be ready to reflect,” she said. “It’s huge for not only personal development, but to take away what we’re being taught and being able to apply it. Taking on that sponge mentality and absorbing all you can is key.”
Goucher believes that the experience in the online master’s degree program at EWU will continue to benefit her for the rest of her career.
“The program is so good,” she said. “I have books to last me a lifetime now. It can be a little overwhelming on paper, but once you get into it and start applying yourself and seeing your personal development and how that can translate into your professional world and personal life is so motivating. I got more than I expected out of it.”