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Laura Baker: Never Stop Learning

Laura Baker

Laura Baker recently came on Northcentral University’s radar after being featured in the Rockford Register Star in Northern Illinois.

Laura is currently the Executive Director of the Rockton Chamber of Commerce in Rockton, Illinois, and she lives just across the border in Hanover, Wisconsin. In addition to working full-time, Laura teaches marketing as an adjunct faculty member for a local community college, while also studying for her MBA in Marketing here at Northcentral!!!

Laura generously took some time out of her frenetic day to connect with Northcentral.


You are definitely a determined woman on a mission. Where does your motivation come from?


The motivation to be a life-long learner definitely comes from within, but I’m constantly inspired by people, books and the places I visit. I attended a local community college to obtain my Bachelor’s degree, and I distinctly remember one of my instructors saying, “Never stop learning!” There is always SO much more out there. I tell my own students: Pick up non-fiction and read it! Always be learning – keep abreast of the current technology – but also connect with the history that shapes our world today. I especially love Civil War history, and I truly believe that knowledge allows you to carry on deep conversations with other people, even if it’s just at a cocktail party. The more you know – the more you can share. 


Speaking of which, what are you currently reading?


I’m actually one of those people who have five books going at once on their nightstand! (Laughs) I guess if I had to recommend one at the moment it would be The Madness of Mary Lincoln by Jason Emerson. Through Ms. Lincoln’s letters, we get to know a person who in her age was committed to a mental asylum, where today, she would probably have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or dementia and perhaps she would now receive better treatment – and live a better life.

 Since I teach, I also read a lot of textbooks, and I’m currently researching Web Site design. And yes, I like being all over the board – I wouldn’t have it any other way!!!


So, why did you choose Northcentral as the place where you’d obtain your advanced education in your VERY busy life?


I did a lot of research and it really came down to either Northcentral University or the University of Phoenix. I chose Northcentral because in my MBA program, I have 12-weeks to complete my courses, and my classes offer adjusted due dates – which are invaluable for working adults. Northcentral works around MY schedule and although it sounds selfish, I didn’t want to be in a Master’s program where I was dependent on completing projects with other students – I like relying on myself.

I also LOVE having a mentor – it’s truly one-on-one learning and my experience at Northcentral has been amazingly positive. I plan on staying at Northcentral to complete my Doctoral studies. The flexible due dates are key – I don’t think I would have been able to make my life and school work with the absolute due dates mandated by many institutions.


Okay, here’s the question that every working adult who is afraid to take an online course wants to know: When do you find time to do this?


I really just squeeze my studies in whenever I can. This morning, I checked out my syllabus, and then did some research, reading and writing before I went into the office. Tonight, when I’m home from work, I’ll check to see if my mentor has returned the recent paper that I submitted – and so it goes. I love learning on my own terms.


You’re obviously very disciplined.


You need to set goals for yourself. I like to think of it as obtaining your life’s education in small chunks. You can’t look at it like, “Oh, it’s going to take me six years to get my Master’s at this pace,” otherwise, it’s overwhelming. Take small steps, and then, you’ll find yourself picking up the pace as you move along. For me, it’s an internal motivation – and I want my Doctoral degree.


Tell us more about your goals.


I believe that I will be able to get a great job with my Master’s degree, at an increased pay level. My additional Doctoral degree ambition is really about self-actualization. Ultimately, I’d like to go from teaching as an adjunct faculty member at a community college to being an educator as a college level professor at a top university.


How do you recharge from your hectic pace?


I spend as much time as possible with my family. I have an amazing husband and two daughters and a son – and soon, a son-in-law. This weekend, we’re off to the Planetarium in Chicago and other nights, it’s just me and my girls out for a fun dinner.


Thank you for your time – is there anything you’d like to add?


Northcentral’s mentors really make me feel like I’m their only student. I actually receive more feedback now online than I did as an undergraduate at a traditional ground college. Northcentral is definitely NOT just handing out degrees; I am looking forward to my journey out to Arizona to walk during my graduation ceremony!!!

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Ed #

    Laura says, “You need to set goals for yourself. I like to think of it as obtaining your life’s education in small chunks.”

    Absolutely. While I wait for the bath to run each night I read a book I’m working through. Just a few pages at a time and before you know it the book’s read.

    Thanks for your inspiring interview!

    January 13, 2012

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