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Student Spotlight: Medtronic’s John Guy and Donna Henault

Text: 'Many of the skills I use every day can be directly applied to the school projects I work on.'- John Guy

It’s never too late or been more critical in today’s workplace to earn a college degree. As two Medtronic Inc. employees demonstrate, it’s also never been more convenient to do thanks to the company’s partnership with Southern New Hampshire University, and its unique, competency-based degree program College for America.

John Guy and Donna Henault are two of the company’s employees earning their degrees through the program that uses competency-based, real-world projects designed for working adults. Both said they were unable to go to college following high school and hadn’t found the right program since then despite previous attempts. College for America’s self-paced curriculum allows students to earn college credits that are directly applicable to their jobs while fulfilling their other professional and personal responsibilities.

Guy, who works as a quality technician at Medtronic’s Fort Worth, Texas, facility is working toward an associate in general studies with a concentration in business. He said even though he’s 47 years old, he needs a degree to keep up in today’s economy.

“There are doors in the modern workplace that simply will not open without an educational credential,” he said. “Experience is preferred, but education is required.”

He said the College for America projects are directly applicable to his work at Medtronic, particularly his interactions with teams in other parts of the company, from research and development to engineering and manufacturing operations. “The College for America program has taught me to write with far more professionalism and structure than I ever had before I enrolled.”

Henault, a technical communications specialist earning her associate degree in general studies with a concentration in business, said Medtronic helped her and other College for America students by organizing get-togethers where they shared tips and strategies. She has even met with one co-worker weekly to work on projects together. “My managers have always been supportive of me accomplishing my goals and have allowed me to set aside time to meet with other co-workers,” she said. “I have met with several people that I would not normally interact with here at work.”

Guy said the flexibility of the College for America platform and the support of his wife makes it possible for him to succeed in the program. “If things come up, which they always do, this program is very flexible,” he said. “I can pull in or push out due dates whenever I need to … Now I have no problem at all working the College for America coursework into my schedule.”

Another motivation for Guy to earn his degree is that he will be the first person in his family to do so. He attended traditional programs in the past but never completed them because he either could no longer afford them or found the course content irrelevant to his work. The College for America program solved those problems.

Workforce Development

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