Our speaker was Marissa Cecere, favorite daughter (LOL) of long-time Easton Rotarian Lori Metz. Marissa was a Rotary Youth Exchange Student in 2010-11 when she spent an academic school year in Milan, Italy. That experience gave her confidence and proved to be the catalyst for the next steps in her career. Their reputation as the number 1 school for studying abroad led her to Arcadia University where she studied International Business with a minor in Italian. During her time at Arcadia, she managed foreign-based study trips in England, Costa Rica, and Italy.
She remained at the University following graduation working as a program manager for students studying abroad. She also took the opportunity to complete her MBA. She now serves as a Relationship Manager for Bellevue University which is physically located in Nebraska but caters mainly to online educational students. She has an office at Lehigh Carbon Community College, yet she has never actually visited the Bellevue campus or her LCCC office.
The University has been a fixture in online education for over twenty years and has expanded their reach by forming the Premier Partnership Network with community colleges throughout the country including LCC and NCC. Credits earned at the community colleges, military hours, and police academy credits can all be accepted at Bellevue. This can significantly reduce the number of credits needed for a degree from Bellevue and therefore greatly reduce the cost. Corporate partnerships with companies such as Wal-Mart, Disney, Verizon, and Chipotle allow students to use corporate tuition assistance to fund their studies. Marissa’s job is to counsel students who are considering such a move.
Online education is not for everyone. The school offers courses in different formats. The traditional term is 12 weeks, but cohort programs designed for working adults are compressed into 6 weeks. Only 2 of 48 undergraduate degrees cannot be totally completed online. Most of the 30 graduate programs are also completed in remote fashion. The online and asynchronous nature of this style of education allows faculty to be spread throughout the country, many of whom are fully employed in the subject in which they teach.
Higher education has taken a hit thanks to COVID, but Bellevue has managed to expand their reach. Their philosophy of caring for others can be seen as they encourage their employees to be active in community service. Bellevue University is using technology to sustain the vision of the two veterans who founded the school in 1966: To provide an affordable educational experience to adults in the community, and to provide Learning For Life.