Now an advisor at UNT herself, Dana Mordecai shares how earning her B.A.A.S. led to a career she loves
Early in her undergraduate studies, Dana Mordecai discovered that she didn’t want to be a lawyer. That was the path her parents had set her on, and leaving it behind led to what she describes as an “identity crisis.” Her grades began to suffer, and eventually, she moved back home to Denton, Texas, with a set of political science credits towards a degree path she no longer wanted.Then, she says, “life happened.” While taking occasional classes at the University of North Texas, she met her future-husband, got married, had children, and eventually started a corporate job.
When the manufacturing company she worked for filed for Chapter 11, they fired all of management — including Mordecai. Three weeks before Christmas, with two children under the age of 4, she had no job prospects.
She started talking with an advisor at the University of North Texas who told her about the Bachelor’s of Applied Arts and Sciences (B.A.A.S.) degree. The B.A.A.S. was designed for people such as Mordecai who had some college or military credit and were looking to complete their bachelor’s degree.
Before meeting with her advisor, she said she had lost track of all of her credits. “I knew I was close, but I didn’t know how close I was,” she said. She had kept “dipping her toe in” without knowing whether she would ever actually finish and earn her degree.
The advisor evaluated her credits and helped her come up with a plan. She had accumulated enough credits that she only had 30 hours of an undergraduate degree left. If she went to school full time, she could have her degree within a year.
She started the degree three weeks after meeting with the B.A.A.S. advisor, and, 18 years from when she started her freshman year, she graduated.
After graduation, Mordecai wanted to give back by helping other students who are figuring out their own paths. She’s been an advisor for graduate school applicants at the university for the last 15 years. “I realized that higher education really did mean something to me and I wanted to be able to share that with other people,” she said.
Mordecai gained many skills while earning her degree — perhaps the most important of all, was confidence.
She said the B.A.A.S. degree has helped her shake off the pressure of other people’s expectations and pursue something that genuinely makes her happy and give back to others. As an advisor, she has even stopped asking students “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and instead asks “how do you want to change the world?” She said she believes she is herself changing the world by helping other students navigate higher education — all because of UNT and her BAAS degree.
Learn more about the University of North Texas’ Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences and get started on your application today.