Dr. Ruth Starr ‘00 was perusing the aisles of her local library when she was attracted to an Upper Iowa University (UIU) advertisement in a college catalog. The University’s nontraditional emphasis provided to students all around the world caught her eye and propelled her career.
Dr. Starr received her bachelor’s degree in social science through UIU’s external degree program. She submitted her past work experience in a written portfolio to gain credit toward her degree and worked one-on-one with professors to complete assignments for the remaining classes needed.
“Taking classes through UIU was a worthwhile career investment for me because I could work fulltime and take classes parttime,” Dr. Starr said. “My favorite part of Upper Iowa was the ability to work on class assignments at home without having to travel to a campus. Back in those days there were very few colleges that offered online or external degree programs. If it weren’t for Upper Iowa, I would never have gone back to college. My experience with UIU inspired me to be a lifelong learner.”
UIU provided Starr a stepping stone to the global stage. After graduating, she accepted a job with the General Services Administration (GSA) in Washington, D.C., which supports government agencies all around the world. She has continuously moved up the ladder at GSA and is now a network services program expert in the Federal Acquisition Service.
“I was able to apply what I learned directly to the job tasks, and the course assignments were relevant to my individual personal development and increased my level of performance on the job,” Dr. Starr said. “When I graduated I was eligible for a promotion to a higher level of responsibility. Once I was sworn in, using the same oath of allegiance that the President of the United States takes, I left the GSA building at the end of the day with a new identification badge, a bag full of signed forms, and a wonderful career ahead of me.”
The UIU alumna continued to learn and advance herself by taking advantage of different training classes and programs offered through GSA. Throughout her career, she has served in multiple positions for the local GSA sponsored clubs, including the Toastmasters International Youth Leadership Program and an advocate for the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. She also managed a tiger team (a diversified group of experts brought together to work on a project) to reduce costs in the payment of invoices and the redesign of the National Capital Region’s regional webpage, represented GSA on a presidential project of climate change and sustainability, and assisted in the design of classes for the EEO Special Emphasis Programs for the USDA Office of Civil Rights.
Dr. Starr committed to lifelong learning and achieved her master’s and doctorate in adult education. “A Brighter Tomorrow,” a compilation of her master’s papers, will soon be published. The book will be shared with teachers who have an interest in educational research. Her goal is to help people with learning disabilities achieve success in their personal educational goals and the professional world as well as gain an understanding of cultural bias and motivation. She has also designed classes for people recovering from strokes using art therapy.
Since her time as a Peacock, Dr. Starr has joined the UIU Alumni Association to stay in touch with her alma mater and to donate money towards the library.
“Being a UIU alumna has given me an appreciation for serving the community through local volunteer service and to connect my education to my volunteer charity work,” Dr. Starr said. “The UIU Alumni Association gives me a sense of purpose outside my work.”