Dr. Elizabeth Gassel Perkins joined Darton State College in 2006 and is now the Dean of Humanities. She is also an online instructor in the Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership degree through eMajor. Let's get to know Dr. Perkins!

Where did you complete your degree(s)?
Valdosta State University, Ed.D. in Leadership;
University of Montevallo, BA and MA in English.

What is your field of expertise and what drew you to it?
I teach in three different fields: English (primarily), leadership, and first-year experience. I have wanted to be a writer since the age of about six or seven, and I spent my entire life working toward that goal. Of course, my specific passions have shifted throughout my lifetime, and when I went to college, I fell in love with editing by working in the Harbert Writing Center. I also had some excellent professors and thought I would like to follow in their footsteps and try to be the guide that other students might need. I started teaching FYE because I am passionate about students and like to give them the tools to be successful in their college careers and beyond. Finally, I decided to pursue my doctorate in leadership to develop my abilities as a supervisor and as a member of the community.

How long have you taught online classes?
I have been teaching online for nine years now, though I have always used an online component for all of my classes; I have been teaching for 11 years and I have loved every minute of it.

Why did you choose to become a college instructor?
I really love helping people, but I am not cut out for careers like nursing! I started out with intentions of becoming an attorney when I was an undergraduate, and I even applied to law school and registered for classes. However, right before classes were to begin, I decided to go with my back-up plan and earn my master’s in English instead. I really loved what I was doing in the writing center, and according to my mother, I was always meant to be a teacher. I also loved college so much that I never wanted to leave! So, after I graduated, I applied to be a part-time English professor, and I have been teaching ever since.

What do you like most about teaching online?
As funny as it sounds, I feel like I have even better interaction from my online students! They are constantly logging in, responding to discussion boards, and asking questions. I feel like I know all of them very well, even if we have not talked by phone (though I always encourage and welcome phone calls).

What was your most challenging subject in school, and how did you get through it?
Ugh. Algebra. I cried almost every day after school. I had always loved math and used to ask my teachers for extra problems to do for fun (nerd alert), but when it came to algebra, I just couldn’t get it. I studied for hours and hours on end and stayed after class for help, too. The more practice I did, the easier it became, but I really had to work at it. I still don’t get algebra, but I loved statistics and (kind of) liked calculus.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I work a lot, so I don’t have much free time, but when I do, I like to travel, go on cruises (when I can afford it), and catch up on television. I’m quite the foody, too, so when I get time to try new restaurants or recipes, I certainly take advantage of the opportunity. Finally, I am a big sports fanatic, and my favorite sport to watch is hockey (Go Blues).

What’s your favorite movie of all time?
It’s a movie from the early 80s that not many people have seen, but it’s Arthur, with Dudley Moore and Liza Manelli. It is truly hilarious, and I have seen it over 100 times.

If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be?
I love hair and make-up, too, so I think I would like to be a professional make-up artist. I would love doing make-up for photo shoots, movies, theater, and major events.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with your winnings?
This question is too hard! I have always wanted to open my own school, like Jo from Little Women did when her old Aunt March died, but I think maybe I would just invest in grants for students to go to college who have big dreams. I would also open a shelter for dogs. But of course, I would travel for at least a year and go all over Europe buying fancy make-up and shoes first!

What is something interesting about you that your students would be surprised to know? Even though I started college at 18 and was a traditional student, I was also very non-traditional in many ways. My parents couldn’t afford my college, though they were very supportive of me going to school. I had to pay my way through college, so I started when I was 14 saving for college and applying for scholarships. I also worked as many as three jobs and as much as 50-60 hours per week while taking courses full-time. What I wouldn’t have given to be able to take online courses! So, I understand how tough it is for some students who are balancing so many things. But, I graduated in four years summa cum laude and ranked first of all students in my major. If I can do it, anyone can!

What advice do you have for students taking online classes for the first time?
You can never underestimate the importance of logging in consistently! Make a calendar for yourself and don’t ever wait until the last minute to turn something in. Technology issues always happen right before you are about to submit something! Finally, make contact with your instructors. Reach out to them for help before you have a problem and not after. I love when my students call me so we can talk about their work and their progress!

You teach in the BS in Organizational Leadership program. Why do you think this program is a smart choice for students?
My studies in leadership changed the way that I see the world, and they inspired me to want to make a difference for all those with whom I interact. I also learned how to create strategic plans, balance the needs of company versus employee, and be a better communicator, thinker, and researcher. I highly recommend this field to everyone and anyone because what I learned is applicable to all jobs!

George Rhaney, 49
Fort Valley State University
Major: Organizational Leadership
Expected Graduation - May 2016

How many eMajor courses have you taken (or are you taking currently)?  I'm smiling as I have lost count!  I've been taking eMajor classes for a year and a half now.

Why is completing your degree important to you?  My story may differ from the average eMajor student in regard to my primary reason for completing this degree.  As a full-time operations manager with over 21 years of experience and as a husband with three beautiful children, my primary reason for returning to earn my degree lies within the existence of my children.   My wife and I take our children's education seriously.  At 6, 8 and 15, each understands our expectation for higher education.  Though they have examples within our family of doctors, surgeons, and educators, I was a little embarrassed my name wasn't among them.  While those professions are not my goal, I wanted to be an example to never give up! 

What are your career goals?  I am seriously considering the pursuit of a Master's Degree.  Since sharing my upcoming graduation with my current employer, I've been given a raise to take effect graduation week!  My immediate career goals are focused on eventually joining the ranks of senior management within my organization where I will be able to use the skill set learned within eMajor!  

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?  As most boys my age, I wanted to be a professional football player, CEO of a business, a motivational speaker, and a preacher!   I'm laughing at that combination.

Why did you choose to take online classes through eMajor?  After researching the available options, eMajor proved to be the most reliable, accredited and financially astute choice for me. 

What eMajor class has been your favorite?  Honestly, I can't pinpoint one particular favorite as I've learned something from each class, even at this stage in life where I thought I knew a lot!

How would you describe the instructors you’ve had in your eMajor classes?  Because of my age, I've been able to connect rather well with my instructors as I have had a lot in common with most of them.  They have proven to be fair, willing to go above and beyond in assisting their students, yet to offer constructive criticism when necessary.  If I had to sum up my overall experience with my instructors in two words, it would simply be this..."They Care."

Besides being a college student, what do you spend your time doing? Honestly, my hobbies have been put on hold during this season of my life for obvious reasons.  When not in school, I enjoy photography and operating one of several TV production cameras at church. 

How and when do you make time for your schoolwork?  The great thing about eMajor is that I can do homework at odd times such as early in the morning before preparing for work or late during the evening on the weekends after spending time with the family.  During crunch time, I can always take as much time as necessary on the weekends as well.

Who inspires you and why?  My children inspire me because I must BE what I expect from them.  With that mindset, they keep me on my toes!

What would you say to someone who is considering an online degree through eMajor?  After returning to the classroom 25 years later, if "I" can succeed as a full-time manager, husband, and father of three, YOU can succeed too!  It's just a matter of time management and support from those within your closest circle.

Healthcare: the recession-proof industry. Whether the economy is booming or not, people are still going to get sick and there will always be a need for healthcare workers. If job security is something you are looking for, a career in healthcare makes perfect sense. However, if blood and needles aren't your thing, you may want to skip nursing or med school and consider the field of Healthcare Administration. 

Healthcare administration is the business behind the care. Health administrators are the ones who keep facilities up and running behind the scenes so that you can get the care you need. Healthcare administrators work anywhere you would find healthcare providers, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, medical practices, and outpatient centers. But employment possibilities don't stop at medical facilities. Healthcare administrators are also needed in places that don't actually provide health care, such as insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and government agencies and departments. Administrators handle everything from marketing and financial operations to preparing facilities for quality and accreditation visits. 

Just as the demand for healthcare providers is on the rise, so is the demand for healthcare administrators. One of the main drivers of this increase in demand is the aging baby boomer generation. Roughly 75 million Americans are currently considered baby boomers--those born between 1946 and 1964. It is estimated that about 3 million baby boomers will retire each year for the next 20 years. As this generation continues to age, they are flooding the healthcare market. At the same time, medical professionals who are baby boomers are retiring in large numbers, leaving vacancies in the field. This scenario places increased pressure on an already stressed industry. In today’s political climate, the business and policies in healthcare are ever-changing. This, combined with the looming influx of the baby boomers means the need for educated healthcare administrators is higher than ever. As an administrator, it is important to keep up with the politics and changes in the industry to ensure that your facility is in adherence. 

Job satisfaction for healthcare administrators is typically high, and retention rates are good. Those in the field feel that they have a purpose and are able to give back to the community indirectly through the medical field. The average salary for health administrators in the US is $66,935, but of course, can vary by the size of the facility. Nevertheless, if you have a desire to help others but are not keen on working directly in the medical field, a career in healthcare administration may be the field for you. 

A degree focusing on healthcare administration is a great place to start if you are interested in entering this field. In the webinar 
below, Lisa Ann Hunt, a professor at Dalton State College and online eMajor instructor, talks more about the growing field of healthcare administration and the corresponding concentration within the Bachelor of Science in Organizational Administration degree. More information on this program is available at https://emajor.usg.edu/degrees/organizational-leadership/healthcare-administration.php