When Life Leads to Higher Education

Quinetta Buterbaugh is Fulfilling a Lifelong Dream by Earning Her Master’s Degree

Quinetta Buterbaugh, president of the Greater Hartsville (S.C.) Chamber of Commerce, has a strong desire to be successful, but not for typical reasons.

“Earning my master’s degree is something I wanted to do for my whole life,” she says. “I’m a first generation college student and I’m proud of that...It’s not only about myself, but it’s also about the story I’m telling my children, my daughters, that they should continue to pursue to be better, to continue to learn, and educate themselves so that they can be self-supporting, as well.”

Quinetta is earning her Master’s of Science in Management and Leadership degree at Coker College, an entirely online program that offers flexibility and convenience alongside personal attention and instruction. She’s motivated by her desire to help shape future leaders of the Hartsville community.

“My husband and I have lived in Hartsville since 2008, so going on 10 years, and we don’t want to live anywhere else,” she says. “We love it here. We raised our daughters here and now we have our granddaughter here. Life is good.”

In her role as president of the Chamber of Commerce, Quinetta is responsible for a wide variety of tasks, including budget planning, strategizing, event planning and project management. She also heads up the Chamber’s Leadership Hartsville initiative, which is a 9-month program designed to develop leadership skills in participants and provide essential information about the Hartsville community.

She says, “I feel like one of the major bonuses of me going through this program with Coker College and earning my master’s degree will be the opportunity to be better at sharing leadership skills and models with the Leadership Hartsville class, and really using this as a way to influence our future here in Hartsville.”

Quinetta and her husband, Dallas, both put a four-year degree on the back burner after getting married and starting a family at 19 years old. “I’d always wanted to earn my four-year degree,” says Quinetta. “It’s just life, the choices that we made, took us down different paths.”

With an associate’s degree from Cambria-Rowe Business College, Quinetta decided to go back in 2010 and get a bachelor’s degree online.

“It was the hardest thing I ever did because my daughters were at a really strange age–13 and 10,” shares Quinetta. “I had just started a new career and so it was really, really a challenging time for me. But I’m so glad I did it because it opened up more doors than I could have ever imagined.”

Through Coker’s management and leadership program, Quinetta has found online learning to be feasible and manageable. “It’s a great balance between teamwork and individual work,” she says. “The three times that we’ve met face-to-face online has been really interesting because I got to put a face with the names of the people in my class and I’ve gotten to converse with them when I wouldn’t normally have that in an online program, and I’m grateful for that opportunity.”

Oftentimes people never take that first step to go back to school because they’re turned off by the application process or the threat to the precious little free time they have. Thankfully, for Coker’s Master’s of Science in Management and Leadership program, things are simplified for greater accessibility, including that a GRE or GMAT score is optional when applying.

“I was excited to hear that this was the first master’s level business degree coming from Coker,” says Quinetta. “I think it’s going to open up a lot of doors for folks in the community who may desire a master’s degree in business to help with their management or leadership experience especially with non-profits, but don’t necessarily desire an M.B.A.”

Coker’s master’s degree program is designed to be manageable for even the busiest of schedules. Quinetta says, “It’s one class every six weeks...I like that it’s compressed. And so I feel like getting done in 15 months is going to be wonderful because it’s only a little over year and I’ll have my master’s degree.”

The program is also designed for optimum feedback and involvement between students and professors. “Dr. Burkemper has made himself very accessible to us and I’m sure the other teachers in this program will be, as well,” says Quinetta. “It’s really great to just be able to reach out to a professor whenever you need something and have that type of feedback.”

“Enrolling in an all-online program for my master’s degree has been a really awesome decision,” says Quinetta. “I don’t have the opportunity or the luxury to spend several hours on a weekend to sit in classes like a lot of other master’s programs are, so coming into this program, it’s been pretty fun.”

Higher education is a family affair for the Buterbaughs. Quinetta is scheduled to graduate in May 2019 from Coker’s Master’s of Science in Management and Leadership program. Her husband is also a first generation college student and is getting his bachelor’s degree completely online through Coker’s business management program. Dallas is taking extra hours every semester so that he can graduate with Quinetta in May 2019. Their daughter is currently enrolled in Coker’s adult degree program, majoring in psychology.

“Education is priceless,” says Quinetta.


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