If you see Patricia Parshall of Moravia, N.Y., wearing headphones in the Non-Traditional Student Lounge in Cornish Hall, please be quiet. She just might be working with a confidential client instead of studying.
A seasoned professional in health care information technology, Parshall works full-time for Cayuga Medical Associates, the outpatient offices supporting Cayuga Health Systems. A data reporting analyst, she works in the finance department.
“I’m here 12 hours on Mondays and when I’m not in class, I’m working on my paid job tasks,” said Parshall, a SUNY Cortland junior who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management through the university’s Health Department in the School of Professional Studies.
“Technically I work ‘from home’ three days a week and then I go to the office the other two days,” Parshall said.
Campus is a long commute from her home in Moravia, N.Y., and so this fall, her first semester at Cortland, the transfer student must quickly shift her attention between classes, homework and her job responsibilities.
“I think the challenge for me right now is finding classes around my work schedule,” Parshall said. “I work days, so early morning or very late afternoon and evening are best; or remote classes. But it’s not easy to fill the schedule with those options.”
Parshall has earned a living on and off again in IT ever since she earned dual associate degrees in computer science and computer information systems from Tompkins Cortland Community College in 1999. She also took online classes at DeVry University, but nothing adds up to a baccalaureate degree.
As one of SUNY Cortland’s roughly 225 non-traditional students, the mother of seven grown children and stepchildren and the grandmother of 17 decided to transfer to SUNY Cortland so she will be able to take her career to the management level, as an operations director.
“I’d like to be a director someday, and to be a director, I need at least a bachelor’s degree,” she said. “Healthcare management is exactly the kind of job someone with this degree could get and would be ready for.”
Parshall is thankful for the welcoming environment in the Non-Traditional Student Lounge.
“Even though I wear a headset to keep confidentiality when I’m in a meeting, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that in the library,” she said. “Plus, there’s a microwave and refrigerator.”
When not working or at school, she likes to spend time with her husband and play in the women’s softball league in Cortland. She has a side-business, preparing income taxes.
The university defines non-traditional students as undergraduates who are 24 years of age or older or, regardless of age, who may have dependent children, be working full-time, have military experience or have made a break in education at some point after high school.
The university will acknowledge these individuals Monday, Nov. 14, through Friday, Nov. 18, during its celebration of Non-Traditional Students Week.
Stories about outstanding non-traditional students will be shared during the week.
The week also includes a host of special activities, both on campus and virtually. Unless otherwise indicated, these will take place in the Non-Traditional Student Lounge located in Cornish Hall, Room 1221.