Katie Brenner is a full-time employee, wife, and mom. She’s also a full-time student pursuing a double major in Business and Human Resources at Avila. Her grit, attitude, and academic achievements earned Brenner the Avila Institute for Professional Studies Undergraduate Student of the Year Award.
“In the last year working with Katie as her advisor, she has made advising simple and fun. Katie has a sweet spirit, and you can tell she has the biggest smile every time we talk. She knows exactly what she wants and what she must do to reach the academic goal she has set. She then executes it every semester to get it done. As Katie runs the race, I am grateful to provide the path,” said Academic Student Success Advisor Danielle Weaver. Brenner plans to graduate in May 2023.
What does winning this award mean to you?
This award means a lot to me as a student at Avila and because I am a nontraditional student. My hard work didn’t go unnoticed. I’m honored that Avila recognizes that. It is also a celebration that you can always do whatever you dream of.
Do you mind sharing a bit of your story? How did you find this program, and where are you currently in life (personally, professionally, geographically, etc.)?
I was relocated to the Kansas City area for a work assignment, just for a short time. While there, I searched for a school where I could earn a degree and work full-time. When I met my advisor, toured the campus, and learned about the institute program, I knew it would be a great fit. After my short one-year work assignment in HR, I wanted to relocate back to Texas to be with family. I started a new career in the aerospace and defense industry and continued attending Avila University, although strictly online-based courses. Now that I have seven years of HR experience, I want to add a Human Resources Degree to my current major in Business Administration.
How did Avila prepare you for your career, or how is it enhancing your current career?
I have worked for major corporations since I was 20 years old. However, I was missing the education that I felt held me back from fully succeeding and growing my career. I have been fortunate to have been provided with tuition assistance from my employers, which helped fund my education. Avila is helping me grow in my career by being able to move into positions that I might not have had without my education. I also think that the classes and degree programs helped with my personal growth.
Have you enjoyed being in the online program? If so, what’s been appealing?
I love the online program because you can work at your own pace. I work full-time, and I have a toddler; I need to be able to complete my work (test, study, read, etc.) when my schedule allows for it. This means sometimes completing work at midnight or later!
What professional goals do you have in the future?
My professional goal and development plan is to become an HR business partner first. I think the experience of an HR Business Partner supporting employees and the business directly will help me with the future roles I want. Eventually, I would like to be a Director in Talent Management for the Business with my employer. Currently, I work in Aerospace and defense manufacturing (defense contractor) at L3Harris™ Fast. Forward.
Who at Avila (faculty or staff) did you form good relationships with during your studies? How did they assist you?
Both advisors, Sarah Sullivan and Danielle Weaver, whom I have had for the past six years, have changed my life. They connected with me and built a strong relationship with me. Even though I live in Texas, they always make me feel like I am on campus. I cannot wait to see them when it is my turn to graduate! I have also had professors that have made a lasting impact on my success, stories from classes and lectures that I will never forget.
“Katie has always been a joy to work with, from an advisor and instructor perspective. She always has a smile on her face and is ready to do what she needs to reach her goal. She was very keen on the details of which classes she could take to stay on track for graduation. From an instructor’s purview, she was always interested in the content and wanted to ensure she completed her work on time and turned in exemplary work. Any employer will be lucky to have Katie,” said Director of Student Success and Faculty Support Sarah Sullivan.