SIU-JALC class of 2017

August 14, 2018

Adult learners finish their degrees thanks to flexible new program from SIU and JALC

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Her work as a police telecommunicator keeps Beth Ann Roberts-Jacquot plenty busy. Throw in family and other personal obligations and the thought of completing a college degree after being out of school for many years was more than a little intimidating.

But, she wanted to build on her criminology and criminal justice background by taking a couple of classes at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. That’s when she discovered Deborah Barnett and SIU’s off-campus workforce education and development bachelor’s degree completion program at John A. Logan College.

Roberts-Jacquot, entered the office of Barnett, manager of off-campus degree programs for SIU’s Department of Workforce Education and Development (WED), “armed with limited knowledge, limited techno savvy and hope,” she recalls.

Work experience can count toward degree requirements

“She talked about my lifelong learning journey and how that might be developed formally into an expansion of my knowledge base. Acknowledging a 30-year work history and its potential for complementing educational goals was very appealing,” Roberts-Jacquot, a Southside Chicago native now residing in Murphysboro, said.

Work experience and occupational training that students have already acquired are evaluated and can count toward WED degree requirements. That means Roberts-Jacquot is on track to complete her bachelor’s degree in December, just 1 and a half years after starting the program.

Completion is as little as one year

Roberts-Jacquot is one of 15 participants in the inaugural SIU/JALC workforce education program and all are on their way to success, according to Barnett.

The program can be completed in as little as a year, and a remarkable 80 percent either graduated this summer or are on track to graduate at the end of the current semester. The others expect to graduate in 2019.

“I anticipate a 100 percent completion rate,” Barnett said proudly.

Flexible format

The program blends online classes and weekend classes at JALC in a flexible format, designed for busy working adults. The WED program, with specialization in organizational training and development, is geared toward adult learners who typically have an associate’s degree or some college as well as professional work experience and occupational training.

The accelerated format incorporates 36 credit hours of major degree requirements, including six, 16-week-long online classes. Also, students attend seated classes at JALC for eight hours every other Saturday for a series of six, eight-week classes. They also attend class on Sunday the first and last week of each session for a total of six classroom days per course. Students may enroll on a part-time basis, too.

Support is widespread

One of the reasons students are achieving such success is the support and encouragement they receive, according to Roberts-Jacquot.

“Since that initial meet, the continuous support has been a huge advantage,” she said.

She credited faculty and staff – the entire department, she noted – as well as her fellow learners, for becoming a “huge and often stabilizing factor in my life. My new family cheers me on, supports my struggles and triumphs my wins right along with me. My success is aided by the love and support I receive from my husband, my instructors and my new school family. I don’t know how I ever managed without them.”

Roberts-Jacquot said her co-workers at SIU’s Department of Public Service also have been very helpful.

She feels she is “a better version of the ‘me’ that walked into Dr. Deb’s office a short time ago,” and while not sure exactly of her plans after completing her degree, she knows she wants to continue learning and would like to put her experience and education to work to develop emergency management or industrial safety programs.

JALC is closest of many off-campus locations

SIU’s off-campus program has a 45-year track record of success. It launched in 1973 at Scott Air Force Base and is currently in 12 locations, primarily located at military bases across the country. The JALC off-campus site is the closest to SIU’s Carbondale campus. There is also a WED program on campus, which utilizes a mix of online and evening classes.

Logan appreciates collaboration with SIU

Melanie Pecord, John A. Logan College’s acting vice president for instruction, was quite pleased when SIU’s off-campus program launched at the JALC location in fall 2017 because she knows firsthand how valuable a WED degree can be. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in WED and said it has “served me well in my career and I love the versatility it provided me.”

She noted that the partnership between SIU and JALC is very important to both the students and the institutions and offers an exciting opportunity for the campus.

“John A. Logan College has been extremely pleased with the collaboration in offering a WED program on campus. It has been a pleasure working with the program, especially Deborah Barnett,” Pecord added. “This program provides a broad and diverse training, making graduates competitive in the workplace. I love that this program has such diversity for a plethora of opportunities.”

Enroll now for sessions beginning every eight weeks

The off-campus WED program at JALC continues this fall with classes starting next week; another session begins in October. 

“Students can register throughout the year, depending on their schedules and needs,” Barnett said. “A new session begins every eight weeks.”

Learn more about the Or, contact Barnett at to discuss a personalized degree completion plan.

Exploring more options

Pecord said JALC “is looking forward to future and continued collaboration with SIU to offer educational opportunities that some thought might not be possible due to busy schedules.”