When Naeem Jaraysi ’20G earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology, he knew he wasn’t done with school. He saw firsthand the importance and longevity of education and was determined to set himself up for a future of possibilities. When his parents moved to the U.S. from the Middle East, he said their education opened them up to opportunities that impacted the whole family.
“I want that same future for myself and my future family,” Jaraysi said.
Although psychology is a great passion of his, he didn’t see himself working in the clinical setting. Instead, what interested him more was social psychology and consumer behavior, which led him to pair his undergraduate degree with a master’s degree in marketing. He hoped to forge a new career path in marketing, landing a role in the field and eventually advancing to a digital specialist or marketing management position.
He didn’t just want a business degree with a focus on marketing. He wanted a program that plunged him into the world of marketing, focused entirely on the profession and studying subjects such as digital marketing and social media marketing with the hopes of landing a position on a marketing team.
That’s where Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) came in.
“What led me into SNHU was I was looking at other colleges, and kind of comparing the degrees that they had and the different focuses that they offered,” Jaraysi said. “And SNHU basically gave me the most options as well as the best focus that I could find.“
Help Along the Way
As an undergraduate, Jaraysi attended in-person classes on a college campus. While he took a couple of online courses, he wasn’t sure what to expect from a program that was entirely online. “I thought I might be learning all my by myself and alone, but throughout the process, I realized that I can reach out to people whenever I need to,” he said.
His academic advisor, Laura Jones, was one of those people he knew he could count on for support. “She helped me out a lot, and she would reach out a lot and make sure that I was doing alright,” Jaraysi said. Their conversations weren’t just about his coursework – she also asked him about other facets of his life.
“It kind of became a friendship more than just her being my advisor,” he said. “… It was a surprise to hear that somebody actually cared about more than just my homework and my grades, but to care about how I was doing at home and how that affects my school life as well.”
Beyond the weekly discussion boards, Jaraysi also got to meet and work with classmates through group projects. “SNHU is different than my previous experience in the sense that there was a lot more interaction with other students in the online classes … That really helped me connect with people even though we were so far apart,” he said.
He found the coursework to be challenging, helping him grow his critical thinking and research skills. Whenever he had questions on coursework, he said his instructors were quick to answer and provide resources whenever necessary. “I definitely did feel like the instructors were experts in their own rights, and they knew exactly what they were talking about in each class,” Jaraysi said.
What appealed to him most was the collective effort to work with him as he worked through his degree. “I knew SNHU was a trustworthy institution from day one,” he said. “…The people that I talked to – everyone was really just warm, and they wanted me to succeed.”
The support didn’t stop when he finished, either.
Several months after completing his degree, he was surprised to receive a call from SNHU Career Services – a resource available to all SNHU students and alumni for life. “They wanted to see how I was doing and let me know that I could use their services if I needed them,” Jaraysi said.
His family, who inspired and motivated Jaraysi to advance his education, was also there for him throughout the journey. “When I think about my family and my sisters and my parents and all the stuff that they did to get me here, (I would) just simply say thank you and thanks for believing in me,” he said.
Flexibility that Worked
Getting a degree online worked for Jaraysi because he could work wherever, whenever. He often found himself staying on top of his reading at a coffee shop after work, posting and responding to discussion boards during his lunch break at work. He could even take school with him on vacation.
“The flexibility in SNHU’s programs (is) super important to me,” he said. “I mean, I was able to do homework pretty much anywhere and at any time … I needed that to be able to to finish my degree in a timely manner.”
He ended up completing his marketing degree in a year and nine months, a few months sooner than the two years he was expecting it to take.
When he first enrolled, he was nervous about fitting school into his life and managing his time. “I think I was maybe a little nervous or overwhelmed that I wasn’t going to be able to manage my time well and get through the degree,” Jaraysi said. “I didn’t know if I had it in myself to do it, but also just in general time-wise. But, at the end of it, I’m realizing that I can do a lot more than I thought I could do, and, moving forward, I want to take on new challenges and accomplish them because it does feel so great afterwards.”
Speaking with his advisor helped him learn how his classmates have done it, and he realized he could split his assignments up to complete over a week. Having regular deadlines helped him push forward every week. “I definitely felt like I could plan out each of my weeks,” he said.
With assignments due on Thursdays and Sundays, he had the flexibility to map out a plan based on his schedule for the week – and was sure to build in breaks, too. “So, like, Monday, Wednesday, Friday I would do some homework after work at a coffee shop, and then other days I would go work out or see friends,” Jaraysi said. “So, I just would split it up depending on each week and what I had going on that week.”
Plus, he found the terms – 10 weeks for graduate courses – to be the perfect length and helpful in knowing what to expect. He said the first half of the term was typically spent learning the material and completing coursework to assist in that learning. The second half allowed for him to apply what he’s learned up to that point to larger assignments and projects.
Completing his capstone course, the culmination of his degree, was a proud moment for Jaraysi. “That felt really good. It was a relief, but also … it was cool to just, like, look back and realize that I put all this together,” he said.
He already finds himself applying what he’s learned at SNHU in his career, especially in his communication with others – both via email and in person. He feels more like a professional, and he’s gained confidence, too, when reaching out to people and voicing his ideas.
“This is an achievement worth celebrating because I know now that moving forward, I can open up doors with this degree but also give my future family opportunities that I got as well,” Jaraysi said.
The hard work he put into his education is now paying off. With his newfound confidence and master’s credential, he recently landed a role as a marketing specialist.
Consider how a master’s degree can change your life.
Rebecca LeBoeuf ’18 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.