MGM/NSHE College Opportunity Program: Rachael Bell Earns UNLV Anthropology Degree
In this Anthropology Announcement, we introduce you to UNLV undergraduate student Rachael Bell. Rachael is earning her degree as part of the MGM Resorts International College Opportunity Program. You can find information about the MGM/NSHE College Opportunity Program here: https://www.unlv.edu/mgmemployees
Could you please tell us about yourself? Where are you from? What are some of your interests?
I'm originally from a small town outside of Portland, Oregon, but I moved to Las Vegas about seven years ago and I've been here ever since. I have been with MGM for almost three years now, and currently work full time at the Bellagio. In my spare time I love reading and video games, but my passion is traveling with my husband. In every city we go to we make it a point to go see as many museums as possible, and that's when my interest in Anthropology began.
How did you learn about the MGM Opportunity Program? How did that lead to your participating in it as a UNLV student?
After I first graduated high school in Oregon, I immediately went to college. I loved the experience and enjoyed every minute of it, but at the end of the semester when I received my first bill, I quickly decided that spending that much money just wasn't for me. That's when I moved here and began working. My plan was to save up for a while, and eventually go back to school but only take one class at a time to make it easier to pay for. One day at work, a mass email announcement was sent out saying that MGM was currently in talks with NSHE to create a program to help their employees to go back to college. The goal was to increase the number of Nevadans with bachelor and masters degrees with the company paying for their tuition. It sounded too good to be true, but a few months later a flier was put up in our breakroom officially announcing the program and I knew I had to do it. I signed up the first day it was available, browsed the different degree options, and decided that UNLV was the college I would apply to.
What drew you to majoring in Anthropology?
The College Opportunity Program will only pay for certain majors at each university. At UNLV, I believe there are seven or eight options, but the one that always stood out to me was Anthropology. I have always been fascinated by history, cultures, and traveling, and Anthropology is the perfect combination. My sister in Oregon is actually an Anthropology major at another university so I was able to look over her textbooks to really see if it was for me or not. My Anthropology classes so far have been my favorite, and I feel like I definitely made the right choice.
What has been your experience as part of this Opportunity Program?
I'm wrapping up my fourth semester now at UNLV and the experience so far has honestly been wonderful. We have a learning concierge who works directly with the MGM students and registers us for our classes each semester so there's never any problems with getting into the right classes at the right time. Although I pay for my textbooks in advance, MGM reimburses me within a couple weeks of turning in the receipts so really I don't pay anything out of pocket. I have never even seen a bill for tuition - MGM gets billed directly and anytime I log onto myUNLV it just says no balance due. The program seems to run like a well-oiled machine and I've never had any problems. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to receive higher education at no cost to myself - I am all too aware of the cost of a degree.
What advice do you have for prospective students who might be interested in this MGM/NSHE Opportunity Program?
For anyone who may be interested in the program, my biggest piece of advice is to not hold yourself back and just do it. It may seem daunting to figure out how to balance going back to school with a full-time job, but the online classes really give you the best possible flexibility. There are times when I have to bring a textbook to work with me and do my schoolwork on my lunch, but it has always been manageable. And if you don't see a major on the list that you're interested in, don't let that stop you. In the past year that the program has been active, there have been two more majors added at UNLV alone so the program is definitely expanding. At the end of the day, this program represents an opportunity that so few people are provided with, so don't let it go to waste.