Nicholas Beresic spent more than a decade in corporate wellness and fitness training before landing a role in communications at the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance, part of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center. As an employee at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he’s using the University’s tuition waiver program to pursue the Master of Applied Professional Studies (MAPS) as part of its inaugural cohort of graduate students.
The MAPS program launched as a response to meet state and workforce needs by equipping adult learners with skills and qualifications needed to be competitive in the burgeoning workforce in North Carolina and beyond.
“I’m not doing this degree program because I need to get a certain credential,” he said. “I need the skills. I’m taking the classes to develop those.”
By creating a custom concentration, the MAPS degree is designed to provide comprehensive curriculum while also allowing for flexibility for students to succeed.
“I wanted to do more and learn more,” Beresic said. “I like being in academia; it works well with my skill sets and strengths.”
The multidisciplinary aspect of the MAPS program appealed to him the most.
“I wanted to enroll in a program where I could learn from faculty in a number of different departments,” he said. “I wanted to design my own curriculum; I didn’t want to take classes that check a box.”
His initial coursework includes financial accounting and an introduction to MAPS. Beresic enrolled in the course in financial accounting, in part, to better support his small business, which focuses on bicycle repair.
“I’m a fitness expert; I’ve never had to take an accounting class,” he said. “I’m learning something new.”
He said the flexible format is critical to balancing work time, family time, and his bicycle repair business. He often wakes up at 5:15 a.m. to best manage his time throughout the day and uses task management software in order to work most efficiently.
“There are a nice assortment of online classes. I wouldn’t otherwise be able to work full time.”
He said the tuition waiver program made his being part of the inaugural cohort of students possible.
“Carolina is a world-class institution, and I like that I can interact with faculty in many different departments,” he said. “I’m very grateful for the tuition waiver; it takes a lot of the pressure off. … We’re growing and learning together.”
The application deadline is April 11, 2023, for students who want to enroll in the program for the fall 2023 semester.