Jarred Twitty started his journey at the Capstone right after high school, following a traditional college route.
“I came from a really small high school and adjusting to such a large four-year university was a lot. The first year was a real struggle for me,” he said.
In Fall 2010, with just two semesters left, his parents encouraged him to move home to Montgomery and finish his degree as a Bama By Distance student. “College was getting expensive. When we realized I could finish my bachelor’s in Consumer Affairs online, I changed my status to being a distance student and moved home to save money.” Jarred and his family were able to save on living expenses as well as tuition since the distance tuition rate is lower than that of main campus. “Being home helped me focus on my schoolwork more since I was not as distracted by campus life. I was able to raise my GPA and it really turned out to be the best thing for me.”
That summer Jarred graduated with his bachelor’s from UA and began working at a government call center. After he was laid off due to grant funding changes, he says the higher education career path fell in his lap.
“My dad graduated from Alabama State and a friend told him they were looking for a recruiter for West and Central Alabama. I was hired for that role in the summer of 2012, and I really enjoyed connecting with students at the beginning of their college careers.” After working for Alabama State for a little over a year, Jarred returned to UA as a recruiter in October 2013.
Five years into his career at UA, he joined the Bama By Distance team as the community college coordinator. In 2019, he moved into his current role as manager of specialized programs where he recruits for UA’s online degree programs and oversees scholarships and grants for distance students. He focuses on community college and transfer student recruitment, working to get the word out about the Bama Link, Back to Bama and Build on Bama tuition grants. These grants cover the first course in a Bama By Distance program for community college graduates, faculty and staff, former UA students and UA graduates.
In a performance evaluation, his supervisor, Dr. Megan Welborn, encouraged him to pursue his master’s. “We were talking about the possibility of me having a successful career in higher education, and there was really no way around it: I had to go back to school and get my master’s,” he said. Dr. Welborn told him to consider UA’s 100% online MA in Higher Education Administration and offered him insight from her own experience earning the same degree. As a UA employee, Jarred is eligible for one free class per semester and a 50% discount on tuition for any additional classes. “As I researched the program, I realized the content would be applicable to what I do every day. I wanted to build new skill sets and enhance the ones I already had so I could do my job better and prepare for my next steps.”
Jarred began the master’s in Spring 2020. At that time, he also relocated with his wife from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham as she transitioned from earning a second bachelor’s to beginning a new career. To top it off, of course, was the pandemic and other global stressors of 2020. “It’s been a whirlwind, but I’ve really loved the master’s program so far. I have a longer commute now, and with less free time, it’s really been teaching me time management. I’m learning to be able to balance my school time along with my home life with my wife and my regular work schedule.”
Jarred has also learned valuable skills for surviving 2020 and beyond. “This summer I took a course on perspectives in higher ed, and it basically discussed the differences in student backgrounds, traditions, etc., and how those things mold ideologies and perspectives on different topics. It taught me to respect other people’s point of view and that it’s ok to challenge certain thought processes in healthy discussion, which was especially helpful with the political climate of 2020.”
Jarred is excited about his future in higher education. He is on track to graduate in August 2022 and has already started planning beyond his master’s. “I’ve considered earning my EdD in Higher Ed as well. I developed an attachment to students in my recruiting experience, and I’d like to work with them in student affairs. I want my career to be able to provide them with guidance and support that I didn’t have in undergrad. I feel like if I’d had more support, I would’ve been more successful in my first few years. If I can help students get through that transition from high school to college successfully, that would be my goal for my career.”
Published: January 27th, 2021