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75th Anniversary Profile: Sherrell Jones Whitfield

Theresa Schempp
By Theresa Schempp

For University of Maryland Global Campus’s 75th anniversary, we spoke with alumna Sherrell Jones Whitfield about some of her favorite UMGC experiences and where she hopes to see the university in years to come. Whitfield earned her bachelor’s degree in business management from UMGC in 2018. She is the founder and creator of A Beautiful Anointing, an award-winning, magazine-published, and a master cosmetologist who developed her childhood love for creating beauty into a thriving beauty business.

When you were applying to school, what made UMGC standout (why did you select UMGC)?

UMGC stood out to me because it offered online courses. I also associated the name with the University of Maryland, College Park, which has an excellent reputation and I studied there for two years.

What was your favorite part about studying at UMGC?

I enjoyed the discussions at UMGC. They were my absolute favorite part of the UMGC experience. Some of the professors did a great job encouraging meaningful dialogue and communication between the students. The discussions also helped to reinforce the coursework in a unique and memorable way.

How has your UMGC degree helped you today?

My UMGC degree has enabled me to qualify for positions and earn an income I was not eligible to obtain beforehand. I am more knowledgeable, skilled, and marketable in my industry as well as more confident in my professional value.

Can you name some UMGC faculty or other students who made a significant impact on your time at UMGC?

Professor Kate Hall was so very encouraging, supportive, and motivating. She is an excellent educator and asked the perfect questions to engage discussions. . . . I learned a lot from her style of teaching and will always remember the effort she applied to the growth of her students.

Is there a quote that you feel best represents your time at UMGC or a quote you heard at UMGC that meant something to you?

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” I did my best work when I was able to be involved. Active participation gave me the drive and passion I needed to discover, ascertain, and contribute.

If you had one word to describe your experience at UMGC, what would it be and why?

My experience at UMGC was surprising. I had no idea I was able to achieve such wonderful educational accomplishments as a full-time student, a full-time business owner, and a single/divorced mom of four. Each goal I reached motivated me to do even better. The support of many professors and the staff made learning a pleasure!

What one piece of advice would you want to share with UMGC students as they pursue their educational goals?

Take the time to learn the information. Pace yourself and stay on top of the work. Don't just go through the motions to earn a degree. The educational experience is within your reach and will set you on a meaningful and fulfilling path. The time, connections, and knowledge are all valuable, so make it all count!

UMGC recently introduced its new mission “Inspire hope, empower dreams, and transform lives ... one student at a time.” What does this mean to you?

This new mission reflects the idea that UMGC cares about its impact on each individual student. It's so easy to get lost and feel alone while studying in higher education, especially when there are such large enrollment rates. However, it takes effort and intention to personalize each student's experience in an impactful way.

UMGC is celebrating 75 years of excellence in education. What does that history mean to you? Why is it important?

Wow! I had no idea. That is profound to me. It is clear UMGC is doing something right to be able to sustain its presence and offer such a quality education to so many students for three quarters of a century!

Where do you hope to see UMGC in the next 75 years?

I hope to see UMGC still inspiring, empowering, and transforming lives!