Blake Venable: Building Confidence and Achieving Personal Goals
Blake Venable has always known he wanted a bachelor's degree, but it was just a matter of when he'd act on this goal. He wanted a school he could trust – and one that would accommodate his busy work schedule. One day, a Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) commercial came on screen, and he wondered if it might be a sign that now was the time to earn his degree.
In search of a school that he could trust and gain the most support, something that stood out to Venable was SNHU’s nonprofit status. “When I noticed that SNHU was a nonprofit, it made me feel a lot more comfortable because I feel like nonprofits are more focused on their mission and the reason for them actually operating and not so focused on money and revenue," he said. "It's more about making a difference, and I’ve really seen that with SNHU."
Venable earned his associate degree a decade ago at a community college in his home state of Tennessee. "All of my credits transferred, so I got to start off about halfway through my bachelor's degree program,” he said. The result is just two years to complete to reach his goal, saving him time and money earning his degree.
"I didn't think I would be able to afford school, but I've been able to pay for it out of pocket so far," he said.
'Flexibility for Me is Everything'
Working in the accounting field, Venable owns three businesses. He has four employees and represents 25 other companies, including four nonprofits. He does all of this while being a full-time student.
“Flexibility for me is everything. Things are constantly changing in my world, so having a school like SNHU that is so flexible and allows me to work on things at any time was a huge deal for me and continues to be,” he said.
He's created a schedule that fits his needs, focusing primarily on his job during the week and schoolwork on weekends. The 8-week structure of each course, broken out by weekly modules, allows him to work ahead on assignments, too, when there's time. “It's also been really helpful having the whole coursework curriculum that’s been available right away for each class, so if I get the opportunity to work ahead, I take advantage of that," Venable said.
Sometimes his schoolwork takes him late into the night, and he likes that help is available whenever he needs it.
“A huge element that I love about SNHU is they have a 24-hour online tutoring center – which I didn't think would even be a thing or that it would even exist, but it does,” said Venable. “I've logged on at two in the morning and gotten help on homework before, so that's that's been incredible.”
Supported the Whole Way
Having achieved his associate degree over 10 years ago, Venable was nervous about going back to school, but he hasn’t had to go through this process alone.
“I've had the same advisor since day one, and she's been fantastic. She has handled everything for me as far as registering for classes, getting signed up, making sure I had the correct course materials ready, making sure my tuition got paid,” he said. “Those little things that are so difficult for me to keep up with, at times she's pretty much like taking care of it for me and just stayed in constant communication. So I've been extremely grateful for her.”
Not only has he received support from the SNHU community, but his family has also been there every step of the way, cheering him on too. “My family's been extremely supportive through this process,” he said. “I know they really want me to succeed and to do well, so I know that they're behind me 100%.”
With the support of his family, friends and SNHU, Venable has been able to continue his busy work life and also be a full-time student. As he moves closer to finishing his bachelor's and achieving a longtime life goal, he has learned that he is capable of so much more than he ever thought.
“I've been able to handle quite a lot, and I didn't think I would be capable of it ... (This opportunity) allowed me to see what my real potential is and given me a lot more confidence in what I do,” Venable said.
Building Upon His Career
Completing his bachelor’s degree is a personal goal for Venable, but he knows his degree will allow him to advance his already successful career.
“The courses so far have been extremely helpful. They've actually benefited me already in my professional career. (They're) very hands-on and things I deal with already, which has been awesome to see that the material isn't outdated either,” said Venable. “They use a lot of tools and software that I'm already familiar with and that I know are used in our industry now, so it makes me feel really confident continuing with it, and I feel like I'm actually learning something worthwhile.”
One of Venable’s career goals is to get his certified public accountant (CPA) license in his home state of Tennessee, but to do so, he must first complete his bachelor's in accounting. “There's going to be some specific things that are more tailored towards our state to be licensed, but I'm not going to be completely lost with the content now. I'll have a general understanding of what it is, so it'll be much easier to prepare for that,” he said.
Between his work experience and his past college experience, he will finish his degree quicker than the traditional four years and gain his credentials faster to start working with more complex tax returns and be better equipped to help his clients.
"I know that what we're doing and what we're practicing and what we're learning is obviously going to translate into the real world because I'm already doing it," Venable said.
Consider how a degree can change your life.
Alexa Gustavsen '21 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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