Sean & Sara Sean '10 & Sara

Strength in Numbers

Coworkers Sean and Sara go back to school with support from each other—and their Bethel cohorts.

BEGIN . BELONG . BECOME

Going back to school can be challenging, but Sean O'Donnell and Sara Yordanov, coworkers in the foodservice area at American Girl, found that having a colleague to encourage you can make all the difference.

Sean went back to school after being inspired by another colleague who was studying at Bethel. He then encouraged Sara to enroll after seeing how she responded to new concepts he brought to the workplace.

Now they’re both working toward degrees in Organizational Leadership at Bethel’s College of Adult and Professional Studies. And despite the difficulty of returning to school as an adult, both Sean and Sara have felt well supported—by Bethel, the cohort class model, and each other.

Sean:

"Sara joined my team a year ago. When she arrived I could see all the great strengths and talents she had as a leader," he says. "As we continued to focus her development I found that she would greatly benefit from my leadership course work. During our weekly status meetings I found myself talking about theories and topics we covered in class, and she started taking the concepts and utilizing them in her work. It was then that I suggested she proceed with her education."

Sara:

“The more I learned about Sean's experience and spoke with the staff at Bethel I knew that this was the place for me. I felt God's voice telling me that this was where I belonged."

Sean:

"Going back to school was intimidating more than challenging at first—the first night of class you really don't know what to expect. But as class continued I found my cohort was a huge asset because it is a small group sharing information, and getting help is much easier. The cohort soon turns into a small family who are all in it together.

Sean:

“I also feel that Bethel’s professors also have a good understanding of what it is like as an adult learner with a full-time job. They are supportive and flexible when I needed a little assistance because I was out of town for work or had a larger than normal workload. They accommodated my needs and helped me find solutions to complete the work on time."

Sara:

"The staff at Bethel has gone above and beyond what I have experienced at other colleges. They have listened to feedback from past adult students and created a great program."

Sean:

"The biggest advantage is the support from one another. We both understand what we are going through and can talk about it. It's also nice to utilize what we have learned in the real world and then put it to work. It has been really nice to hear Sara asking some of the same questions about what she is learning as I did—and being able to help her answer them. It's like a refresher for me."