Degree Caps eVersity Grad’s 14-Year Journey

Undernehr Degree Caps eVersity Grad’s 14-Year Journey

As a child with parents in the military, Natalie Undernehr is used to adapting to change.

After high school, she had to adapt to working full-time to pay for her education. After marrying, she adapted to being a stepmother and later, a mother. She worked hard to incorporate these life changes into a full-time professional career and to finish her education, which she did through the University of Arkansas System eVersity in May.

“This is my 14-year degree,” she joked.

Undernehr had already earned two associate’s degrees from Northwest Arkansas Community College, itself an achievement given the many things she was juggling. But a growing family and career made it next to impossible to focus on much of anything else, especially finishing a four-year degree. That is, until her job demanded it.

“I had a unique opportunity come my way at the University of Arkansas, which caused me to take a hard left on my career,” she said. “I’d worked in IT at NWCC and I got a phone call saying, ‘I think you would be the right person to do this (UA job).’”

“When I started at the U of A, I was at this point of do I want to teach or do I want to stay in IT?” Undernehr said. “Well, I couldn’t really do either without continuing my education.”

After discovering eVersity, Undernehr gained the best of all possible worlds. She’d already discovered her best learning environment — online — that not only helped her manage her schedule but also allowed her to focus better.

“Online (classes) always worked better for me,” she said. “I am dyslexic. I do have some auditory issues. Traditional classroom learning was just not something that worked for me, as far as focus and attention are concerned. I wasn’t learning. I couldn’t learn.”

Undernehr said her coursework was also practical enough to be applied directly to her job. She’s currently the PCI administrator for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where she’s in charge of credit card security.

“Business, IT and criminal justice were my three focus points,” she said. “I had a lot of business classes. That is something that’s needed as I do work for financial affairs and I need to know how to communicate with people that are in finance and administration. I needed the IT classes which I considered icing on the cake because they were reaffirming things that I already knew, but now I get to show them on a transcript.”

Even the criminal justice focus applied to her job.

“Then through my criminal justice classes, I learned a lot about how the human brain works to help figure out why someone would defraud the university,” she said.

Now with her bachelor’s degree in hand, Undernehr finds she’s got many more professional options ahead of her. As she takes the time to weigh them, she’s already made up her mind to push her educational boundaries by pursuing a Master’s degree.

“(eVersity) allowed me to work full-time and work on my degree at the same time,” she said. “Unlike most of my peers who, when they graduated from college had to start from scratch, I did get to build my career, my home life, all of that while working on my degree.”

Undernehr credits finding and also choosing to take a chance on eVersity with her newfound success and happiness, and encourages others to do the same.

“If you’re on the fence, what’s the harm in giving it a couple of semesters and seeing where it takes you? The tuition is low. The learning experience is very, very high,” she said. “The learning outcome is very high. So what’s the harm in at least trying?”