Laura Necochea

Laura Necochea. Photo by Greg Ehlers.

SFU NOW: Nights or Weekends was a key step on Laura Necochea’s journey to leading her own department—and, one day, much more.

The former operations coordinator had always wanted to finish her bachelor’s degree, but her work schedule, among other factors, made it difficult. She had taken a few courses at another university, but the lack of flexible scheduling prevented her from continuing.

“It was always, ‘Tomorrow, tomorrow,’” she says. Then, about five years ago, “tomorrow arrived.”

She learned about SFU NOW, which allows students who work full-time to take courses in the evenings and on weekends, and thought, “Oh, that’s perfect for me.”

SFU NOW helps woman land promotion

Necochea, an ambitious young woman with plans to move into senior management one day, saw a need for a centralized human resources department in her organization, which has offices throughout North America.

Hoping her new credential would give her the credibility she needed to make her idea reality, she began a BA in political science through SFU NOW in 2009.

In March of 2013, just months before graduating, Necochea’s hard work—in the office and at school—paid off. She now heads up the HR department she envisioned.

“The degree solidified my ability to keep rising,” Necochea says. “It certainly opened the door.”

She admits the coursework was a challenge, but it never slowed her down. While balancing her full-time job—and, in her last semester, a pregnancy—Necochea took no fewer than three courses per semester.

“I just kept making it work somehow,” she says. “I was determined to finish—nothing was going to stop me.”

A supportive partner and inspirational moments in her classes helped propel her forward, she says. While almost everything she studied was beneficial in terms of teaching her to think analytically and communicate well in writing—both vital skills in human resources—certain subjects were “truly inspiring,” including human rights and politics.

Grad makes plans for master’s degree

Today, only months after earning her degree, Necochea, the first in her family to complete university, is already planning her next step up. She’s in the process of choosing between a master of business administration and a master of arts in conflict resolution.

“I’ll go wherever the opportunities are,” she says.

By Amy Robertson

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