At Towson University Continuing & Professional Studies, our students’ success is our success. That’s why we work closely with them from registration through course completion to understand their career and continuing education needs and goals. Read on for Shantay Brown’s success story and and get inspired to create your own student success story.

Tell us a little about your background.

I started working in human resources as a temp in 1997 at a hospital and found that I had an eye for detail and was driven to create a better interaction between employees and HR. I had four mentors who taught me different areas of human resources (labor relations, benefits, HRIS, and recruitment) and they all wanted me to be on their teams. So I was offered a permanent position as HR assistant and through time (16 years) I moved around to every position in HR.

Why did you decide to take our Professional in Human Resources certification prep course?

TU’s Professional in Human Resources course was important to me for a few reasons. I was laid off from the hospital in 2007. They brought me back and laid me off again. Then, recruitment took a shift in 2009 when the Great Recession happened and I found myself having a hard time getting job offers. I obtained my B.S. in business administration in 2008, but I was not getting any calls because there were so many applicants. Companies were only taking online applications so I felt that I got lost in a sea of applicants and I wanted and needed to stand out. I decided then that healthcare might not be where I needed to practice HR, but then employers started asking for the credentials. I wanted to get the certification. However, the requirements to obtain a PHR certification were different at that time which is when you needed to have a job title and duties that were classified as exempt, which I did not have.

How did enrolling in our course change your career path? How did you benefit from taking the course?

I finally became employed, after getting through the Great Recession, but felt like the jobs I was getting were only lateral moves. I felt that obtaining the PHR certification would make me more marketable, but I did not have the funds to pay for the class. Then, in June 2019, I lost my job once again and started meeting with a career counselor at the Baltimore County Office of Workforce Development, My counselor asked me if I was interested in training that they would fund. This gave me the opportunity to sign up for TU’s Professional in Human Resources course. I thought, “Finally it’s going to happen!”

Why did you choose Towson University? How did a member of our team or the instructor help you?

I chose Towson University because of its reputation and because it was local, which afforded me the opportunity to choose in-class or online instruction. After starting the online class I started noticing areas where I was struggling. I reached out to Trudy Munroe, Student Success/Program Manager. She shared her story about taking the class and successfully taking the certification test—I was inspired because we seemed to have struggled with the same areas. She was very honest about the content, so I just continued studying. I thought, “How can I do this in spite of my struggle with being unemployed and then to have a pandemic affect the entire world at the same time?” I knew it would be a challenge, but I really wanted the PHR certification.

Did you take your certification exam yet? Did you pass?

I took the PHR certification test at home in May 2020 and missed by five questions! I doubted that I could re-test and successfully pass, but I took it again in August and passed! My new study plan really helped. And, honestly, after being unsuccessful the first time, I gained a new perspective on how the questions are asked differently on the test. Believe me, the questions are tricky and it makes you feel like you never read about the things they are asking.

If you could say anything to someone who is on the fence about taking a continuing education course, what would you say?

My advice to everyone is that your education is something that no one can take from you, so get as much of it as you can. I am a mature student so I really needed this certification, not only for adding credentials to my resume but to boost my confidence. I have an adult daughter and six nieces and nephews who look up to me and I wanted to inspire them as well.

Anything you would like to add?

I would advise others to read through each book and take the coordinating practice tests as they work through the books, and as often as they can. Make sure, after reading the books, to go back and review each book again; you’ll notice there are some things you missed the first time.

Get an understanding of the concepts because the certification exam questions will be based on the concepts and not just the content. Make sure to focus on the items that are in bold letters in the books and get an understanding of those topics.

Leading up to the test, especially a week before testing, create an action plan for each day of what you will study and then go back to review the areas you are struggling with to create more than one way to study the information (i.e. reading out loud, remove all distractions, create flash cards, look at YouTube videos for tips on taking the test, etc). On the day of the test, make sure to do something to get the blood flowing to your brain to help you focus (i.e. a few sit ups, squats or meditation).

Getting a certification isn’t easy, but persistence and determination is the key; you have to want it!