The Family That Learns Together

Paul & Alaina Schaefer

For Paul and Alaina Schaefer a typical evening at their home in North Strabane Township near Pittsburgh was likely to involve curling up on the couch next to each other opening their laptops and taking their graduate level online classes at Gannon University.

“It’s amazing how often we did this,” Paul Schaefer said with a laugh. He finished his MBA in August simultaneously with Alaina’s completion of her M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction. 

“...the Schaefers chose Gannon’s online programs because of their quality and availability...”

“In all our time in the online programs, we probably only took two or three classes that weren’t at the same time,” he said. “We help each other out, too on things like APA style,” added Alaina.

Convenience, not family bonding, is most often cited as the reason for taking classes online. But the Schaefers chose Gannon’s online programs because of their quality and availability, too. 

Paul Schaefer acknowledged that almost all MBA programs had the concentration in finance that he wanted. What drew him to Gannon was the flexibility of scheduling that would accommodate his career at BNY Mellon Bank.

“I really liked the fact that I could take one class for the first half of the semester, then another class for the second seven weeks,” he said, explaining that this schedule allowed him to devote his full attention to one course at a time.

“I wanted a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction, but no school of education in this area offered that degree,” said Alaina, who is a teacher in the McGuffey School District. “I had looked at Gannon for my undergraduate degree, so I looked back. I guess it was meant to be.”


Stefan & Ericka Alm

With two children at home and living in Chautauqua County, New York, convenience was very important for Ericka and Stefan Alm; especially so for Ericka, since she’s aiming as high as possible with Gannon’s Ph.D. program in organizational learning and leadership (OLL).

She talked to William Hallock, Ph.D., assistant professor, graduate outreach education. “For 45-minutes he answered every question I had,” said Ericka. “I liked my experience at Gannon when I got my principal certification and I knew the quality of Gannon, but talking to him persuaded me to consider OLL.”

Stefan Alm went straight into the workforce from high school, later enrolling at Jamestown Business College at night school for four years and earned a bachelor’s degree in business.

“As competitive as business is, I told Stefan that he should get his masters,” she said. And that’s just what he’s doing.

“I liked my experience at Gannon...”

“We put our two kids to bed at eight o’clock and we’re on our laptops until our bedtime,” Stefan explained. “Our children are six and two-and-a-half and they’re only getting busier, so we’re working to get it done now.”

Ericka added, “And we will. Stefan and I always remind each other that you can make anything work for a year.”

Especially when you’re working alongside family.

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