Coleen Buglino (’18) has worked in the corporate world and been a missionary to Ireland, and now serves in a key role arranging events and travel for the American Bible Society in Philadelphia. But there’s one thing the busy northern New Jersey native, now 34, never had time to do – finish her undergraduate degree.
Thanks to LBC’s online program, however, Buglino was able to do exactly that, graduating summa cum laude from the biblical studies program in December. She also was named to the honor society and won an award as a top student in the accelerated undergraduate program. Her new degree is “giving me that confidence to pursue more growth within my career,” she said. “I needed the boost of having my degree to push me toward more professional opportunities.”
In her early 20s, Buglino had earned a three-year certificate from Summit School of Ministry in Grantville, Pennsylvania, but hadn’t yet earned a degree. “Full-time ministry, traveling and different things in life prevented me from completing my undergraduate education,” she said. But Summit and LBC have an arrangement for people who want to finish their four-year degree, and Buglino heard about LBC’s online program.
“I quickly found that it was an easy fit for me, because I knew there would be no way I could attend class and make that work at night or on weekends,” she said, “but I knew that I could discipline myself to do things at my own pace if I could do it online and have that flexibility.” Buglino was 23 when she finished at Summit, but then left in 2009 to serve in Cork, Ireland, working with Cork Church. After returning from Ireland in 2012, she moved to the Philadelphia area. She admitted she was a little intimidated before going back to college in her 30s. There were things like mathematics and science classes, which she hadn’t contended with since her high-school years.
Buglino wants anyone considering the online degree program to know that they can do it – and she surprised herself with just how well she did. “It’s amazing how much knowledge you accumulate just by being in the world and working in a career,” she said. “So it actually felt much easier than I thought it would be. It was still challenging, but just the right amount of challenge – not a hurdle you couldn’t overcome.”
Buglino completed her degree and won her awards even while facing endocrine disorders that make her chronically exhausted. “There would be times when I would literally be up at night, crying my eyes out, asking God, ‘Please help me with all of this stuff, because I’m so tired!’ And He really did help me manage it and finish with excellence, and that was my prayer.”
This makes Buglino think of a Bible verse she has posted at her cubicle at the ABS center-city Philadelphia office, where she is a project associate who does everything from meeting preparation to planning travel for C-suite organizational leaders. Her verse is Zechariah 4:6: “So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Before starting as an online LBC student, Buglino had been worried that the content would not be engaging. “I worried that the format was going to be boring, and that I was going to have to force myself to do my schoolwork,” she explained. “But it had very, very engaging formatting and content. Plus, the program design lends itself to engagement, since you have to interact on forums with the other students.” She also appreciated the variety of formats in which class content was delivered to students, such as through YouTube videos, articles and other creative avenues. “So it’s not just you sitting there reading and writing papers. It was easy to get into the classwork – it didn’t feel like a labor.” Buglino was an online LBC student for a year and a half.
Also thanks to her new LBC degree, she is in the process of applying to several Philadelphia-area institutions for either her MBA or master’s in organizational leadership or psychology. She hopes to begin in the fall. Her eventual goal is to do coaching and consulting for individuals, corporations and nonprofit organizations and ministries.