Earlier this year, JoDee Tittle was appointed CEO of Southern Coos Hospital and Health Center in Bandon, Oregon.
Members of the hiring committee lauded Tittle as an “excellent listener” and “well-informed.” Her previous experience as interim president of a hospital in Central Oregon was noted. A trustee welcomed her as a person who “can build trust and a collaborative environment.”
Such recognition was humbling and satisfying to Tittle. But it was perhaps all the more meaningful because Tittle completed her bachelor’s degree at Capella University only four years ago—in 2013.
In fact, Tittle had enrolled at Capella and begun working on her undergraduate degree in 2001. She enjoyed the classes, but life circumstances—job duties, having kids—ultimately slowed her progress to a standstill. She dropped out of school. Career became her priority, and she gained ongoing experience in human resources in various fields from transportation to manufacturing to health care. But finishing her bachelor’s degree was never far from her mind. “It was always something hanging over my head to do,” she admits.
A Degree for a Promotion
The nudge to finish her degree came in 2011, when her employer merged with another organization. The number of staff in Tittle’s department grew exponentially—from 3 people to 30, and Tittle worried that her resume might not hold up against the experience of her new coworkers. “I didn’t want not having a degree to be the excuse that prevented me from getting a promotion,” she says.
Tittle returned to Capella in part because the university allowed her to apply her work experience and certifications toward her degree. In 2013, she received a Bachelor of Science in Business, Human Resource Management from Capella, and then went on to earn an MBA. The degrees, she says, signaled to employers that she was serious about advancing in her field. At a series of hospitals and health systems, she moved up the ladder, serving as human resources site manager, director of ancillary and support services, and interim president and CEO, before landing her current position at Southern Coos.
Networks and Other Benefits
Tittle’s time at Capella introduced her to much of the research that undergirds human resources practices and policies. Her classes also put her in contact with other HR students, providing her with a network of people that she can draw on when she has professional questions or concerns. “It’s often valuable to pick up the phone and talk to someone who has no stake in the outcome of a situation,” she says. “Those personal connections are really useful.”
Going back to school wasn’t necessarily easy—“I had two young daughters at home,” Tittle says. “It was hard for me to work all day and then come home and take care of them, find time for my husband, and get my coursework done.” But, in retrospect, she says she has zero regrets about putting in the time required to get her degrees.
“For anyone who’s thinking about going back to get their degree, I’d encourage you to stop talking about it,” Tittle says. “Set a date. Go for it.”
Learn more about Capella’s online BS in Business programs.