When Carolyn Gorman, COO of women’s services for the University of Pennsylvania Health System, graduated from Cardinal O’Hara High School in 1979, a four-year degree just wasn’t in the cards. Instead she earned an associate degree and was hired as the manager of an OB-GYN center. But Gorman knew that “in order to grow professionally, I needed to broaden my scope.”
“I would have continued to move along in my career,” she said, “but if you want to really grow, you have to have a well-balanced resume with both work experience and education.”
When a friend raved about the ACCEL® program at Immaculata—the cohort, the flexibility, the intensive learning—Gorman was intrigued. The Accelerated Continuing and Experiential Learning Programs at IU are designed specifically for working adults who wish to pursue an undergraduate degree while continuing to work full-time. For Gorman, it was a perfect fit.
“When I returned, I was an adult,” said Gorman, “so I wanted to be in a group of business professionals like myself. There was a great sense of camaraderie that was very conducive to learning.
“What was great about the Immaculata program was that you felt a tremendous sense of pride and success coming out of it, such a sense of achievement,” said Gorman. “IU does a great job teaching you how to be a better communicator. I always say that when I went to Immaculata, I learned how to be a writer. There’s such an emphasis on how to articulate and present well, but because you practiced those skills in a cohort, you never felt nervous. You could learn and work in an environment where you felt safe.”
Gorman credits her ACCEL® program experience with making the transition to graduate school almost effortless. When she graduated from IU in 2001, “I came out thinking I could do anything,” she said. “I had so much confidence that I was ready and eager for the next challenge. I was so prepared coming out of Immaculata that it really positioned me well for getting my M.B.A.”
Gorman considered earning her M.B.A. from Penn State “a piece of cake,” having been equipped by the ACCEL® program with the tools to be successful. “After you graduate from the ACCEL® program, you’re a learner,” she said. “You’ve moved along in your own knowledge base. And at IU they taught us to work in teams, which is so important. I was always the type of person who said ‘I’ll just do it myself,’ but that’s not a natural environment. We always have to work with people who have different talents, different priorities. You have to hone those cooperative skills, and IU’s program did that.”
With a Bachelor of Arts in Organization Dynamics from IU and an M.B.A. from Penn State, Gorman’s career accelerated, and today she is responsible for the financial health and success of the Department of OB-GYN at Penn Health for Women. “It’s like running a small company,” said Gorman. “It’s a great place, and I work with great people. I love it.”