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Online programs provide opportunities for students raising families


Brookings S.D. (KELO AM) - Attending college while having one’s children attend college at the same time might seem like an impossible task. Yet, South Dakota State University merchandising student Bonnie Junker is doing just that.

Junker, who is working toward a master’s degree in merchandising, understands the constraints of pursuing an education while raising a family.

“I do not have super strength or a brilliant mind someone could make a movie about,” Junker said. “There are honestly days I doubt myself and, like everybody else, I have circumstances that intensify the challenges with continued education.”

Junker manages to teach undergraduate courses at SDSU and advise the Apparel Merchandising Association student group while completing her master’s degree online.

“I don’t want to be defined by my challenges. I believe everybody has unique circumstances that impact them in some way. However, I do not allow my circumstances or doubts make the decisions for me,” Junker said. “I believe that the difference between failure and success is found in how you respond to circumstances. We do not have full control over all of the things that come our way in life, but we have control over how we choose to respond to them.”

Junker expects to complete her master’s degree in spring 2015.

What is merchandising?Designed for professionals in a variety of fields, the merchandising program provides students with a global perspective of the interaction of cultural economic, political, social and environmental systems as they relate to the industry. In the ever-changing global environment, the ability to merchandise products to the consumer is a strategic advantage and will distinguish students from their peers in the industry.

Working in the merchandising industryGraduates of the program are prepared to work in product development, promotions and retail management. Retailing has a major impact on the U.S. economy, representing one-third of the total U.S. economy or $4 trillion. For professionals in retailing, apparel design or business who lack the theoretical background of merchandising, the expertise offered through the merchandising master's degree may provide for career advancement or a new career in merchandising.

The merchandising online program offers both master’s and graduate certificate options as a part of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA).

About the Great Plains IDEAThe Great Plains IDEA is a partnership of 20 public university members providing access to the best educational opportunities by collaboratively developing and delivering high-quality, online academic programs in high demand professional fields. Learn more.

About the Office of Continuing & Distance EducationThe Office of Continuing & Distance Education is the hub for online degree and certificate programs, University Centers collaboration, noncredit offerings and professional development seminars. All services and activities are intended to expand the reach of the university to a diverse community of distance learners so as to build human capital and foster knowledge-based economic development. Learn more.