Being from Madison, he naturally looked into UW-Madison’s program first. Then he discovered UW-Stout would accept all but one of his associate degree credits toward his bachelor’s, allowing him to start his college career as a junior.
“Choosing Stout meant that I didn’t have to start over,” he said. “In hindsight, the path I took to Stout was meant for me.”
Keeping up with family and a full-time job
At age 34, Hellenbrand entered the online management program. The flexibility meant he could maintain his full-time job, complete his schoolwork at night and not miss a beat in family life as he and his girlfriend raise their three sons.
“This was important because I didn't have to sacrifice time with my kids each night before they went to bed. It just meant some really long nights and tired days,” he said.
The program and his concentration in business provided Hellenbrand with foundational tools in all facets of business that he could apply directly to his career. The courses and assessments helped him think about his current approach to managing his marketing team and to reflect on how experiences shape him, his career and his relationships.
“The program helped solidify who I am and some things that I need to work on,” he said. “It gives me a clear understanding of what I bring to the table and how I will always be a continuous learner looking to improve.”
Adult learners returning for their degree
Long days at work and long nights studying at home were well worth the effort, Hellenbrand said. With the support of his professors, peers and family, he graduated with honors from UW-Stout on May 9, 2020.
For adult learners thinking of returning for their degree, Hellenbrand advises to "be prepared to work for it and take the time you need to make school a priority."
“You'd be surprised the satisfaction that you get out of returning to school when you really want to be there and you're invested in you,” he said.
“Josh was an active learner who helped his classmates connect the value of what they were learning with day-to-day application,” said Program Director Renee Surdick. “He invested in his learning by embracing the application of course theories and practices.”
Hellenbrand’s next step is advancing his marketing education with a master’s in integrated/strategic marketing communications. He plans to attend a school nearer his home on the East Coast.