Southeast Online, Industry Partnerships Advancing Careers of Area Workforce


Southeast’s corporate degree partnership offers TG supervisors and managers the opportunity to complete a new customized Industrial Management Program designed for TG.

Southeast Online’s partnership program at Southeast Missouri State University is providing the paths employers and employees need to meet their personal and career goals.

“The University plays a critical role in providing opportunities throughout southeast Missouri,” said Chelsea McNeely, director of Southeast Online. “Southeast Online is engaged in and contributing to the educational, economic and social development for people in this region and beyond.”

By partnering with regional industries and employers, the University can collectively raise the pool of locally educated talent and skill, she said. Southeast Online strives to have its partnerships be part of the solution to the employment and retention challenges facing the region by giving employees access to quality and affordable higher education.

“Through our industry partnerships, we extend the tools and resources of our faculty, staff and programs to improve and meet the educational goals of regional businesses and their employees,” McNeely said.

Southeast Online’s industry partners include St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield, Missouri; Citibank N.A. in O’Fallon, Missouri; Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri; Owensboro Health Regional Hospital in Owensboro, Kentucky; Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center in Poplar Bluff, Missouri; Phelps County Regional Medical Center in Rolla, Missouri; SoutheastHEALTH in Cape Girardeau, Missouri; and Perry County Memorial Hospital and TG Missouri, both in Perryville.

Southeast Online student Kristian Brignac, a supervisor at TG Missouri, gets some study time in before her shift at TG Missouri.

The partnerships provide employees access to Southeast Online’s 14 undergraduate programs, 18 graduate programs, certification programs and specialist degrees.

For Kristian Brignac, a supervisor at TG Missouri, the partnership with Southeast Online was a great opportunity to earn a college degree while continuing to work.

Last year, Southeast launched a new specially customized online degree, giving TG managers and supervisors the opportunity to complete Southeast stackable credentials online under a new Industrial Management Program specifically designed for TG. The program provides TG staff with opportunities for individual growth, elevating their skill set and cultivating their supervisors and senior managers eager to advance their careers in southeast Missouri. The program is in line with TG’s company philosophy emphasizing continuous improvement.

“Southeast just felt like a good fit,” said Brignac, who is completing the Industrial Management Program. “I was very encouraged by President Carlos Vargas and the faculty members who presented a program during one of our supervisors’ meetings. I felt that Southeast was very interested in our success.”

Southeast offers its standard online tuition rate for undergraduate and graduate degrees, but a partnership can provide additional tuition discounts, waived application fees and customized degree pathways.

The customized programs and individualized support allow each partner’s employees to flourish and be successful throughout their college career, McNeely said. Additionally, the skills and knowledge they gain at Southeast can be applied to their future careers, in and out of the companies.

“My program is tailored to TG Missouri, so I don’t feel like I am wasting my time with classes or a degree that is not going to help me in my career at TG,” Brignac said.

Amber Bishop, director of nursing at Perry County Memorial Hospital, says partnering with the University allows their employees to better themselves with a higher education, while continuing their work.

“Watching our staff start from the bottom and move up is really a great honor,” Bishop said. “This is a great opportunity for our employees and for Perry County Memorial to work with Southeast to better the healthcare field.”

Partnerships can have positive outcomes for employees, employers and the community.

Making higher education degrees more accessible for a company’s employees through a partnership can enable companies and organizations to pass that success into a higher level of quality care or customer service to the community and the region, McNeely said.

“Partnerships between Southeast and organizations or businesses help to improve the quality of the University and improve the community,” she said.

Southeast Online launched a partnership with Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center in 2017 to provide its employees access to quality and affordable education.

Under the partnerships, Southeast and area employers are working together to enhance academic excellence. The University benefits as well with industry experts being considered for academic advisory boards, to serve as invited subject matter experts, to present guest lecturers or take on adjunct faculty roles.

“Having the industry experts involved on campus allows our students to benefit from their knowledge,” McNeely said. “We are able to better understand the needs and outcomes required for success in their field, and our faculty can use industry knowledge to inform curriculum choices.”

Every student’s academic plan and goal is important, whether it’s in or out of the classroom, and the partnerships encourage success.

The one-on-one support Brignac receives from Southeast Online has given her the confidence to pursue her college goals, she said.

“They are very helpful and encouraging. Because of the partnership, I feel I’ve gotten more assistance and support than if I did this all on my own,” she said.

Along with support from Southeast faculty and staff, she receives constant encouragement from her family and coworkers.

“My coworkers are just awesome and understanding when I have an assignment due or a test. I would not be able to do this without them. What inspires me the most is TG as a company, knowing they are rooting for my success and are willing to financially invest in my future,” said Brignac, who hopes to continue and advance her career at TG Missouri. “I hope to inspire someone else to take this journey and to know it is never too late to return to college.”

For more information about how to become a partner with Southeast Online, visit