SOU Accepting Applications for New Cohort of Innovation and Leadership Program

(Ashland, Ore.) — After working for the same company for almost 15 years, the last 12 of which have been spent in one department, Andrea Budavari was tired of being passed up for promotions and new positions because she did not have a college degree. “I’ve been ready for something different—for a new challenge—for a long time now,” she said.  “But because I didn’t have a college degree and didn’t meet the qualifications on paper, I kept getting passed up.”
For Budavari, and others in a similar position, the Innovation and Leadership (INL) program at Southern Oregon University was just what she was looking for. “I was afraid that I’d be unable to fit a bachelor’s degree program into my already busy work and personal life, but the fast track, accelerated class format provided exactly what I needed.” Innovation and Leadership is a multidisciplinary program designed specifically for working professionals who are emerging as leaders within their organizations.
Amie Mills found herself in a similar situation after spending eight years working in the corporate world. “When I wanted to move up into higher management positions, all of the positions and job postings had minimum qualifications that included a college degree,” she said. “It was really frustrating to be completely overlooked for jobs I knew I could excel in because of the lack of a degree.”
Both Budavari and Mills believe they’ve found the solution to their stagnated careers through the INL program. “I’ve been going to school off and on since 2007, but the regular academic schedule of most programs wasn’t fitting well with my busy life,” Budavari said. “INL was finally the answer.”
SOU is now accepting applications for the next cohort in the INL program. Classes in INL, which are accelerated to meet the needs of working professionals, are scheduled in five-week modules, meeting one night per week at SOU’s Higher Education Center in Medford. Classes for the upcoming cohort are scheduled to begin this summer.
“The INL program develops leaders by focusing on the skills needed to lead effectively in the modern workplace,” according to Moneeka Settles, INL program coordinator. “Courses include Negotiation, Conflict Management, Group Dynamics, Creative Thinking, Applied Business Research, IT Ethical Issues, and much more.”
Due to the accelerated schedule and the fact that classes meet just one night per week in Medford, Settles says the INL program is ideal for interested students who may live in outlying areas. “We have multiple students who live outside of Jackson County in areas like Grants Pass who have found that the schedule works well for them,” she said.
Courses being offered through the program this summer include Organizational Leadership as well as International Business, which will focus on the history, trade, and commerce of chocolate.
“Many of the courses I’ve taken in the program have had a huge benefit on my career already,” according to Mills. “I’ve learned a lot about how to approach a variety of projects in ways that ensure the best outcome and have made outstanding connections with others in my cohort.”
As a degree completion program, INL is designed for individuals with some college experience and at least five years of work experience beyond the entry level. “We also hope that everyone interested in the program will have a sincere desire to lead, innovate, collaborate, and think critically,” Settles added.
For Mills and Budavari, the program has been so beneficial, they would recommend it to anyone else who feels stifled by not having completed a college degree. “I’ve already emailed information about the new cohort that’s starting up to everyone at my work,” Budavari said.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. But be prepared to work hard and contribute in class in order to get the most out of it and have a rewarding experience,” Mills added.
For more information on the program or to begin the application process, contact Moneeka Settles at 541-552-8103 or
About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University is a medium-sized campus that provides comprehensive educational opportunities with a strong focus on student success and intellectual creativity. Located in vibrant Ashland, Oregon, SOU remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all students on its environmentally sustainable campus. Connected learning programs taught by a host of exceptional faculty provide quality, innovative experiences for students. Visit