Lori Ragan receives a framed diploma for her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources and Workforce Development from Mandel Samuels of the College of Education and Health Professions at the U of A. The presentation took place on the 24th June to Ragan’s employer, Lanxess of El Dorado, as part of the RazorBug Diploma Tour.
Lori Ragan’s former supervisor told her, “You have an HR brain, you just don’t know it. Go for it. Ragan knows it now. And, she went there – a college degree in the field she loves.
The training and development specialist at Lanxess, an international chemical company with a facility in El Dorado, received a framed diploma for her bachelor’s degree in human resource and workforce development education from the U of A as part of the RazorBug Diploma Tour in June. Mandel Samuels, assistant professor for teaching the program, traveled nearly five hours from Fayetteville to present the degree on the company lawn on June 24.
Samuels wore full debut badges on the hot summer morning as family, friends and several of Ragan’s colleagues gathered to watch and show their support during the videotaped event. Samuels and Ragan first met in person in early May. The tour celebrates student success in online degree programs. More than 440 of them applied for their diploma in May
Kevin Hazen, the site manager, told Ragan later in a chilly break room with a Razorback-decorated cake, “We’re extremely proud of you. Graduating is one thing; graduating while working and taking care of your family is off the charts.”
Ragan, who has 6-year-old son Gannon with her husband, Whit, said she felt “over the moon” to be able to both walk to the graduation ceremony in May and have the RazorBug with U of A faculty and staff visit his workplace. Lanxess officials believe so much in education that the company offers a tuition reimbursement program.
“These are the people I work with and spend most of my days with,” she said. “I like working with people, talking to people, helping people, solving problems.”
Ragan said she feels lucky to be sandwiched between baby boomers with many years of experience in the business and new hires she trains.
Ragan earned an associate’s degree from South Arkansas Community College in El Dorado. Her previous training and work experiences led her to the position of Training Coordinator at Lanxess in 2014. During this period, the Training Coordinator reported to the Director of Human Resources.
“My career was transformed by this HR manager, who quickly became one of my most influential mentors,” Ragan said. “She invested time in me and challenged me. She didn’t allow me to settle down and kept me on my toes at all times.
“In order to work on HR scenarios, it allowed me to think things through and use my problem-solving skills,” Ragan continued. “As a result, she saw in me something I had never imagined as a potential future for myself. It was through her that I was connected with a mentor with over 35 years of experience. human resources background. It spoke to me a lot, to serve in a field for so long. I really started picking his brain. I attached myself to those who I thought could sow a seed in me and what I wanted to become, I wanted to grow.
This mentor worked with Ragan every day to develop his skills. Ragan was promoted to Human Resources Assistant after working alongside her for 18 months.
“I was encouraged by my current manager to go back to school and complete my bachelor’s degree so that I can have many more opportunities in the future,” Ragan said. “During this journey, I am so grateful to every mentor and manager who has invested in my future. They have been willing to share their knowledge and have been supportive of my goals. Throughout my career, I intend to expand both my knowledge and my skills so that I can grow with my industry. One day, I hope to be an influential mentor to others, just as many have done to me.
Ragan said she was not looking to leave the company. She feels deeply invested in it and her family is El Dorado.
“We have employees who have been here for a week up to 51 years,” she continued. “I was building relationships and finding out how people got to where they were. Everyone raved about going back to school; either they wished they had, or they were happy with it. to have done. It made me spin the wheels. I thought it was time; seize this opportunity.”
The human resources and workforce development training program gave Ragan a new perspective, she said, not only from the information she learned in her classes, but by interacting with other students who work in other industries and businesses. Through group projects, she learned a multitude of HR approaches, she said.
She offered advice to anyone considering studying in an online degree program.
“Don’t question yourself,” Ragan said. “Keep pushing for it. Don’t overlook the opportunities that come your way. If you’re questioning yourself, talk to someone.”
She started the program thinking it would be a little easier than she eventually found it, although she expected it to be a culture shock because she had never taken a full charge. lessons before. She credited her academic advisor, Denise Bignar, for providing invaluable help and guidance as she delved into the program. Bignar advised him to contact online resources available through the U of A.
“There’s an unholy amount of tools out there,” Ragan said. “I used the UA Libraries every day online. It opened up all kinds of resources that I could pull from and interesting topics that I had never had experience with. I could really dive into what was going on. was there.”
Ragan said she was impressed with all the faculty members she worked with in the program.
“Dr. Samuels pushed me further than I thought I could go,” she said. “Even when my answer to something wasn’t incorrect, he encouraged me to look a little deeper.”
The RazorBug is a converted red Volkswagen Beetle that sports a Razorback muzzle, tail, and sharp spine. It has been used for recruiting and special events since 2005. The tour took place over two weeks in southern Arkansas and the River Valley in June.
The RazorBug Diploma Tour was hosted by U of A’s Global Campus. Global Campus works with university colleges to offer more than 75 online degree, certificate, micro-certificate, and bachelor’s degree programs. These programs are featured on the U of A ONLINE website at online.uark.edu.