The opportunity to save one of the world’s largest corporations more than $111 million is not the average outcome of a class project.
But Jacob Garrett is not the average student, and the Arkansas Tech University Bachelor of Professional Studies degree is not the average online program.
Motivated by a goal to complete his college degree before his son graduated from high school, Garrett applied the credits he had earned at Tech earlier in life and went on to complete the online BPS degree from Arkansas Tech in two years as a member of the Class of 2016.
His was among 700 degrees awarded by Tech to graduates during fall commencement ceremonies at John E. Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Friday, Dec. 16, and Saturday, Dec. 17.
On his path to graduation, Garrett used his capstone class to create a program entitled “You Achieve” for his employer, AT&T. The nine-figure savings (so far) have resulted from increased efficiencies in employees gaining access to online portals for coaching, documentation, gaining rewards, referring customers and professional development.
“I look for innovations that will allow us to use technology to change a process or procedure to make work-life balance better for our employees,” said Garrett, who works out of Conway as a member of AT&T’s national team in his role as senior technical processing quality manager. “I always start at the front line, and they really like that this project didn’t start high up in leadership and trickle down to them. These were ideas that started with employees.”
More than 116,000 AT&T employees have utilized the You Achieve system since it went live. The associated website has received more than 90 million hits.
Garrett points to his academic advisor, Miranda Senn, and his instructors, including Annette Stuckey, as key factors in allowing him to successfully complete the BPS program.
“I really thank Ms. Stuckey a lot for helping me with my capstone project,” said Garrett. “I knew how to run projects, but she really gave me a structure on how to run it. I had the experience, but I never had that structure. As big as this program was, being able to break it down into those steps is what made it successful.
“The biggest a-ha moment I had was the teamwork aspect,” continued Garrett. “What I found is that when everyone is involved and has skin in the game, it’s no longer my project. It’s everybody’s project. When I first went back to school, I thought I just wanted to get that piece of paper. But as I took ethics in business and psychology classes, I learned more about how to relate to people and the charisma part of gaining buy-in.”
With his degree in hand and a brighter future in front of him, Garrett has a simple message for individuals who are in the position now that he was in two years ago.
“I challenge you to enroll in one class,” said Garrett. “That is the hardest part in going back to school. Once you register, then you are in and you want to try two classes. Never give up. Register for one class. This online program is a life changer.”