Business student graduates as outstanding scholar at 18 years oldGAINESVILLE, Fla. – In seventh grade, Jillian Purner was bored in her classes because she felt the pace of the curriculum was holding her back. Recognizing her potential to do more, she began taking online classes.
As a result of that initiative, Purner finished ninth and 10th grade in one year in her hometown of Longwood, Florida. She then began dual enrollment at Seminole State College, allowing her to graduate from high school with her associate’s degree at the age of 16.
One year later, Purner moved to Chicago with her family and began taking courses with UF Online, graduating in two years with a degree in business administration from the Warrington College of Business.
“The coolest part about online [classes] is that you can control your own learning and facilitate your own speed of your education,” Purner said.
While taking online classes, she also maximized other virtual opportunities.
As a marketing research intern for UF Flexible Learning, Purner worked from home, directly applying skills she was learning in her classes, such as marketing promotions, social media, and data analytics.
Purner also worked as a teaching assistant for her online principles of management class, for which she hosted weekly online office hours, answered questions from other online students, and helped grade assignments.
“It helped me learn how to manage my time and juggle one more thing,” Purner said. “It was good leadership experience leading other online students who share my experiences because I knew what they were going through.”
Using group project video conferences, Purner connected with other students, some of whom she continues to maintain communication with today through text, despite never having met in real life.
“UF Online let me take control of my education and showed me that I could learn even at a distance,” Purner said. “It made you feel like you were a part of the class, and it was really empowering.”
Upon graduating, Purner finished her capstone project honors thesis on effective advertising strategies for her internship. She also received the Outstanding Two-Year Student Scholar from the Warrington College of Business award for her excellence in academic achievement.
In June, Purner began working full-time at Aon, a company that provides insurance brokerage and consulting services. She does internal consulting work with the solutions development team as a project specialist.
“I’m just honored I get to say I’m a Gator,” Purner said. “It was a dream come true to be able to go to the school I wanted to go to and to be part of a community that’s so well-known and has such a good reputation. I’m very grateful I got to be a part of UF Online.”
Story by Alexandria Ng. Photos submitted by Jillian Purner.
With a UF business administration degree, you will be equipped with the knowledge you need to succeed in graduate school as well as a wide array of business-related careers. Learn from some of the nation’s top professors at the nationally recognized Warrington College of Business, ranked 17th in the Best Undergraduate Business Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2017.
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