Jackie Arnold is the Director of Strategic Relationships at Saylor Academy. She has worked at Saylor Academy in this role for over 5 years. Jackie works with Saylor’s partner organizations to create opportunities for learners to earn certificates and college credit.
Saylor Academy: Can you start by telling us about yourself?
Jackie Arnold: I’m originally from the Midwest and now reside in the Washington DC metro area. This is actually my second time working at Saylor Academy: I was an intern at Saylor when it was Saylor Foundation and helped to put together the foundation’s first conference, DigEdCon.
SA: Tell us about your job. What is it that you do at Saylor Academy?
JA: I oversee Strategic Relationships, which means I research, reach out to, and develop partnerships with other organizations on behalf of Saylor Academy. I work with a great team of experts who help connect with high level representatives of other organizations so they can learn more about us.
Our partners include great colleges and universities as well as nonprofit organizations that use Saylor’s courses to further develop their students or other communities. For example, our partnership with Central Union Mission allows their clients to learn career skills and re-ignite their passion for learning. These men, most of whom have experienced homelessness, are realizing their potential and going on to careers or even other educational pursuits.
I also have managed three other conference events (Saylor Summits) and regularly represent Saylor externally at conferences, webinars or other presentations. My job often involves working with our other great “departments” to support partners or these events.
SA: What does a typical workday look like for you?
JA: It can vary, which is one of the great things about this role. Days can involve a presentation to a potential partner, meeting with a prospective partner (more often now on Zoom), or even writing an article. Another thing is, I get to meet a variety of great people who work to help others.
This position has afforded me the opportunity to meet people I likely would not have met, and do some really great things. Prior to graduation, I ran into SNHU President Paul Leblanc (maybe the world’s most friendly person!) and was able to tell him I would see him in May. We took a selfie!
SA: What are you most proud of?
JA: Professionally, I am really proud of Saylor’s growth and it’s progress toward the mission of serving learners globally. We have learners in nearly every country in the world who have seen their lives improve because they have access to free courses.
Personally, you may have noticed the “cap and gown” photo I chose to use. I just recently completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing at Southern New Hampshire University, which took about two years to accomplish. As an adult student (and I have been a college student in nearly every sense of the term: on-campus, online, part-time, transfer, as a working adult etc.) I can relate to the challenges faced by online students. However, there is nothing like the opportunity presented by obtaining new knowledge. The world opens up to you. Education is truly something “no one can take away from you” as my mom would say.
I believe my experience as an adult student also gave me a unique perspective when explaining our value to other institutions. I am passionate about equitable access to education, so much that I co-authored an article to talk about credit transfer as a barrier for students.
There are a lot of students like me, however. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, over 36 million adults have some college, and no degree. Additionally, an estimated 85% percent of students have lifestyle aspects of “post-traditional” learners: working, attending part-time, or caring for dependents. I’m excited to see more institutions look for innovative ways to support these students.
SA: What do you do in your spare time?
JA: I’m so excited to have spare time, for the first time in a while! I like to go to live concerts and comedy shows and movies. I have a few books on my list to tackle: Bird Brother, Parable of the Sower, and Atomic Habits. I’m also looking for a new project to keep myself busy.