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2021 South University Alumni Achievement winner Elizabeth Metheny, who earned her Master of Public Administration (MPA) online in 2011, says earning a degree at South University set her on the path toward her dream job.

Elizabeth Metheny

“Less than a year after graduating, I was sitting in a chair interviewing for the job I had always wanted,” she says. “Now I’m an Assistant Professor at the WVU Extension Service and I get to work with youth, adults, and families, providing them with educational opportunities they otherwise wouldn't have. I get to apply what I learned through my education every single day.”

Growing up, Elizabeth participated in the West Virginia 4-H program, which is affiliated with the WV Extension Service. It was an activity she greatly enjoyed, and, once she was old enough, she worked as a summer assistant and camp counselor for the Extension Service office in her county. As she got older, working for the Extension Service became her primary career goal.

After high school, Elizabeth earned a bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences in 2006. After taking a few years off to work, she decided to return to school for her master’s. At the time, she was pregnant and working three part-time jobs.

“I completed my MPA during a challenging time but it made me stronger and more resilient in all parts of my life,” she recalls. “My son turned one just three days before I submitted my final paper. It was a whirlwind of 16 months for me. I look back in amazement now, but I had goals and wanted to succeed, so I did. I was running on adrenaline and energy but I remember enjoying my education so much.”

Elizabeth chose the MPA program so that she could set herself up for a broad range of public service opportunities. As a student, her faculty and staff were very encouraging and supportive, and she also found value in the online experience.

“South University encouraged me to think globally and continue lifelong learning,” she says. “It provided me with valuable virtual communication skills that I use every day in my life and work. I was far ahead of my colleagues in virtual education when I entered my field and it set me on a path to success.”

Since beginning her career with the Extension Service, Elizabeth has received nearly 20 state and national awards for her work. She has also been involved in 11 different organizations, including serving on the Board of Directors for the Eastern Allegheny Council for Human Services.

Reflecting on her time at South University, Elizabeth advises other students, “Power through with a positive mindset. You will look back and be proud of what you achieved. You won’t be disappointed at the quality of education you will receive and the power you gain in pursuing your education while continuing with everyday life. This is an accomplishment that no one can take away from you.”

Are you interested in a career focused on leadership and management in non-profit or government organizations? Learn how our MPA program could help you, or request information to speak with a South University representative about your interests and aspirations.

If you’re a South University alum, we’d love to hear about your accomplishments as well! Log in to our Alumni Site and click Share Your Story in the Alumni Success section.