Gabriel Doucette has two major accomplishments behind him. He and his wife just welcomed a new baby, and he recently completed the final class for his BS in Psychology through IU Online.
Doucette’s schedule was tight. He has a family and works third shift in a factory in Kokomo. But he was committed to finishing his degree. His only option was a program he could fit in to his packed schedule. With commitment and ambition, he completed five classes each semester. “I fit in class lecture videos and homework whenever I could—during work breaks or after work. Sometimes I turned my homework in in the middle of the night.” Two years and a summer after starting, he earned his degree.
Like so many others, Doucette came to IU Online with credits to transfer from other universities. Thanks to his academic advisor Liz Ferris, transferring them was a breeze. “Liz was fantastic,” he said. “She got me through enrolling and credit transfer. She was an excellent academic advisor, and I couldn’t have done it without her.”
Once enrolled, Doucette could access his dashboard in Canvas (IU’s learning management system) to see all of his assignments for the week. This feature allowed him to schedule what he needed to do each day. “The weekly discussion sessions for each class were engaging, and as close as you could get to actual classroom involvement. Students helped each other. In a way, it was easier asking questions online, because you had the chance to think about what you wanted to say before you typed the question.”
Doucette encourages everyone to try online learning. He credits his professors for being responsive, flexible, and always ready to help. “I always felt I was getting the attention and education I needed,” he says. Two psychology professors stood out: Deborah Miller and Alisa Brown. Along with delivering inspiring classes, they helped Doucette get an internship that provided real-world experience.
The internship—at Opportunities for Positive Growth, a co-op that assists clients with learning disabilities like autism—allowed Doucette to leverage his background in guitar and vocals to help clients with their psychological development. He joined forces with his mentor at the co-op (a music therapist) to find music and songs clients enjoyed. “Singing together with clients helps develop their motor skills, cognitive abilities, and emotional health. Physically being part of this was a great experience.” As Doucette gained experience, the mentor encouraged him to take the reins and lead sessions.
When COVID-19 imposed social distancing, Doucette’s professors helped transition the therapy sessions to Zoom. “All of this was incredible real-world experience,” he says. “COVID-19, combined with the craziness associated with having a newborn in my life, made it a challenging semester, but my professors were so helpful, not just in my academic growth, but in the practical matter of suddenly moving my internship online.”
For Doucette, the IU Online program was the right program at the right time. “I came in with a game plan. I knew music therapy was what I wanted to do. And my wife kept pushing me to keep going. The work was stressful, but I’m glad I did it. I’ve done really well, achieved the best grades of my life. This was absolutely the right thing to do. My bachelor’s degree is the gateway to my next goal—the IU Online MS in Music Therapy through IUPUI—and to the career I know is right for me.”