Saturday, November 2, 2019

A seat at the corporate table with help from BASTL

After graduating from Reading Senior High School in 2003, Ashley Faulkner held a series of temporary positions before landing a job on the assembly line at a battery manufacturing plant. Working as a machine operator, materials handler and in virtually every other position along the line, Faulkner said the pay wasn’t bad. But after almost six years on the job, she said she couldn’t see herself performing heavy manual labor the rest of her life.

She realized that education was her ticket out. “I knew I didn’t want to beat my body down, and I wanted a chance to exercise my mind and talents,’’ said Faulkner, 32, who lives in Reading and earned her associate degree in public administration and pre-law from Reading Area Community College in 2012. She was eager to earn her bachelor’s degree, but she became discouraged after trying one college program and finding that it lacked flexibility. She was unable to juggle work and school, despite sleeping in her car to cut down on travel time. “When I found out about Bloomsburg (University) and that many of the classes were virtual and the rest would be taught at RACC and that they would accept my associate’s credits, I felt I could do it,’’ she said.

Faulkner received her Bachelor of Applied Science in Technical Leadership degree (BASTL) from Bloomsburg in May 2018 and is considering pursuing a master’s degree in leadership. Faulkner, who works part-time in retail at Boscov’s corporate store in Reading, said the BASTL program gave her confidence in her abilities and taught her how to communicate ideas effectively. It also gave her an appreciation of the financial considerations behind business decisions, she said. Recently, Faulkner suggested a way to reward employees who get customers to take Boscov credit cards, which account for about 30 percent of the department store’s transactions. The BASTL program taught her to examine how a business operates and to look for paths to improvement. It also furnished her with the vocabulary to make her case to management. “I had never been part of the corporate atmosphere, and the BASTL program prepared me to communicate with executives in email or in person,’’ she said, adding that the classes on making presentations using online tools will be important as she advances. “I now realize that in making decisions you have to consider overhead, losses and liability. I didn’t come from that background and didn’t understand how big a role these factors play in operating a business,’’ she noted.

After consulting with employers who are looking for skilled managers, Bloomsburg University created its Bachelor of Applied Science in Technical Leadership program primarily for individuals with associate degrees who work and need flexibility. The program accepts up to 60 associate degree credits, and half the BASTL classes are online, with the rest taught at Bloomsburg’s partner institutions: Bucks County Community College, Community College of Philadelphia, Harrisburg Area Community College, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Northampton Community College and Reading Area Community College, as well as at the State System of Higher Education campus in Center City Philadelphia.

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