Certificate programs help prospective professionals land jobs

June 19, 2012

A successful graduate of UCLA Extension, one of the country's oldest and largest continuing education providers, is speaking at her alma mater's graduation ceremony about her path to success.

Currently, Judge Elizabeth White works at the Los Angeles County Superior Court. She says her path to a judicial career began by earning a paralegal certificate at UCLA Extension. Before working toward the certificate, she earned an undergraduate degree from the school in French Literature.

"My grandmother asked, 'What does one do with a French literature degree?'," White said. "She knew about Extension and I always listened to my grandmother. She had it right. Extension gave me the tools for a lifelong career in law."

At the graduation ceremony, she will stress the importance of continuing education and certificate programs in the competitive business environment. With the help of financial aid and scholarships for adults, a growing number of returning students are seeking degrees and training to develop their careers.

Many celebrities are following this trend, continuing their education after taking time off to pursue their music, acting and sports careers. Basketball star Shaquille O'Neil finished his online coursework in 2005 and received a Master in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Actor James Franco completed his undergraduate degree at UCLA by taking online courses, and is now studying at Columbia's Master of Fine Arts program long distance.

Over 2,400 students will receive certificates from UCLA Extension this year, a jump of nearly 700 from last year. The program offers financial aid for veterans and single parents as well as private alternative education loans.

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