After successfully juggling school, work and family duties, Benjamin Pijor of Stow, Ohio, and applications support analyst at Kent State University, has become the first graduate from Kent Stateâ€™s School of Digital Sciences. Pijor graduated this past fall with a masterâ€™s degree.
The School of Digital Sciences, which was established in 2011 as an interdisciplinary school, started with three students and witnessed a 3,133 percent growth in enrollment by fall 2012. The school offers Bachelor of Art, Bachelor of Science and Master of Digital Sciences degrees, and exposes students to digital technologies that are used by a variety of professions and organizations.
Graduating the First Student
â€œIt is very exciting to graduate our first student! It is absolutely amazing how quickly this program has grown,â€ says Robert Walker, director of the School of Digital Sciences. â€œIt is very clear that our program is filling a need and attracting students who want breadth beyond the other programs.â€
Walker says that students in the school study everything from Web development to programming, design, information management, human-computer interaction and more.
â€œOur master's program gives students an opportunity to add depth in areas beyond their undergraduate program to make themselves more marketable,â€ Walker says. â€œIt's already attracting newly graduated bachelor's students, working professionals at Kent State, such as Ben, and working professionals from Northeast Ohio and beyond.â€
Pijor considers it an honor to be the first graduate from the school.
â€œIt was something that never crossed my mind when applying to the program,â€ he says.
Pijor already had more than 10 years of IT experience, and was seeking a program that would broaden his skills. When he heard about the enterprise architecture program in the School of Digital Sciences, which is the first masterâ€™s program of its kind in the U.S., and its interdisciplinary nature, he knew it was the program for him.
â€œI've been interested in understanding IT from â€˜the big picture,â€™ such as the considerations involved in strategic planning, but lacked the exposure to it,â€ Pijor says. â€œThrough my coursework, I now have a better understanding in developing an IT strategy, aligning IT with business functions and identifying opportunities for improvement. This knowledge has had immediate benefits to my job because it has changed my way of thinking. In the long run, I hope to have an opportunity to apply this knowledge on a larger scale.â€
Balancing School, Work and Family
But for Pijor, earning his masterâ€™s degree was no easy task.
â€œTo say I was overwhelmed at times is an understatement, especially after the birth of my son at the beginning of the Spring 2011 Semester,â€ Pijor says. â€œHow do you juggle a weekend where you want to bond with your son, but you also need to rake your leaves for collection on Monday, clear out your gutters while the weather is still nice, and attend a family function while knowing you have a huge assignment due by Sunday night? It wasn't easy.â€
He attributes his success to learning to keep a schedule, prioritizing and support from his wife, Robin Pijor, who also is a Kent State employee.
â€œAs my biggest supporter, she kept me focused and helped me prioritize everything, while also giving me the time I needed to do homework," he says. She sacrificed as much as I did during this process. She never once complained and kept me going. I owe this degree to her.â€
Pijor advises students and professionals interested in a technology career to consider the digital sciences program at Kent State.
â€œThe digital sciences staff can help you identify what concentration best aligns with your interests,â€ he says. â€œThe major advantage of this school is its interdisciplinary nature that allows it to offer a wide variety of courses from other departments. I think the jump in enrollment speaks volumes for a new program.â€
Walker is excited at the accomplishments of the School of Digital Sciences within a short time.
â€œEven though we haven't been around long, we're starting to graduate students. In the spring, we'll have the first graduate from our bachelor's program. Then next year the numbers will really start increasing,â€ Walker says.
For more information about Kent Stateâ€™s School of Digital Sciences, visit www.kent.edu/dsci.