Instead of pursuing a higher education after high school, I married my husband and we started our family. Over the years working as a store manager for Starbucks, I began to evaluate my situation, realizing I wasn’t happy with my career and I was filled with regret having not gone to college.
Why I Chose Hodges
Because of my schedule, I began searching for schools that provided online courses. While looking for a school with a well-developed distance studies program that also had brick and mortar campuses, I discovered Hodges University.
When deciding which school to attend to further their education, a majority of people tend to look within driving distance of their home. However, for Jennifer Pretlow, who lives in the Pacific Northwest, her decision to attend Hodges was based not on distance, but on accreditation, reputation and flexibility.
Growing up an hour north of Seattle, Washington, her parents divorced when she was 14 years old. After high school, instead of pursuing a higher education, she married her husband Nic, and the two started their family.
Over the years, while taking care of her children, Nelson (21) and Madison (15), and working full time, she discovered there was a void in her life. At 37 years old, Pretlow found herself unhappy in her current career as the store manager for Starbucks. Taking six weeks off of work due to surgery, she began to evaluate her situation, realizing, “I wasn’t happy with my career, and I was filled with regret having not gone to college,” she said.
Considering her schedule, she began searching for schools that provided online courses. Looking for a school with a well-developed distance studies program, which also had brick and mortar campuses, she discovered Hodges. Apart from its ability to offer flexibility through online courses, Pretlow added, “We have family in Florida as well, so Hodges was the perfect option for me.”
Possessing a passion for law and with the full support of her husband, Nic, she enrolled in Hodges’ paralegal studies associate program in fall 2010 and left her job at Starbucks leaving her husband as the sole provider of the house. Earning her associate degree in 2012, she continued onto the bachelor’s program in legal studies, earning her degree in 2014.
“Having been through the undergraduate legal studies program, the Master of Legal Studies was a natural progression for me,” said Pretlow.
Throughout her academic career, Pretlow witnessed the dedication and commitment of Hodges’ faculty members, especially Dr. Char Wendel, Dr. Carlos Baradat and Dr. Andrew Weyl. With different teaching styles, she admits she “learned to adapt to each one and be the owner of my own success.” Considering Wendel to be her mentor, Pretlow appreciated the unique teaching style and engagement Wendel provides to her students.
“Dr. Wendel has a knack for helping students discover the areas of law they’re passionate about, and encouraging students to explore those areas,” she said. “Dr. Wendel was there for me every step of the way in my six-year venture at Hodges, and I hope to continue our relationship.”
Throughout her “venture,” Pretlow experienced difficult times, especially with the illness and death of her father. Pretlow spent much of her time attending his appointments and supporting him through treatments for esophageal cancer. During one semester, she told Weyl she would be unable to finish the semester; however, he encouraged her to stay.
As her father’s condition worsened, she recalled a conversation with Wendel, saying, “I told her I would not be starting the summer term. She asked me, ‘What would your father want you to do, Jennifer?’ and at that moment, I knew my dad would have been very upset if I had dropped out. I can honestly say I overcame this horrific obstacle with the help of the two aforementioned professors.”
While pursuing her degree, Pretlow felt yet another void in her life as she is very career-driven. With encouragement from her husband, Pretlow accepted a job with Amazon.com in Executive Customer Relations. Partnering with the legal and public relations departments, as well as various business teams, she works to identify defects and improve the customer experience.
Graduating in fall 2016 with her master’s degree, Pretlow plans to obtain her Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) in Washington and use her experience in the legal department at Amazon.com, saying, “My education has taught me to effectively communicate, which is truly the one skill needed to thrive in any role. As I begin to pursue roles within the legal field, I am confident in my abilities and knowledge of the law because of my education.”