Lanae Price Will Walk Graduation Stage With Daughter After Earning Master’s Degree

Thirty years after graduating with a bachelor’s degree, Lanae Price had no plans to return to college until her son, Levi, helped change her mind via social media.

“He was working in the marketing department at Southern Utah University [SUU],” she said. “I was recovering from surgery when he posted something about going back for a degree.

“I jokingly made a comment like, ‘Your mother?’ The next morning, he and his boss called and told me I needed to do this. I looked into it. Within eight hours, I was enrolled and back in school.”

Price graduated from the online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Professional Communication program at SUU in October 2022.

“I thought that maybe it wasn’t the direction that I wanted to go, but all my adult children talked me into making the degree what I wanted,” she said. “I didn’t know I could do that, but I did. I didn’t know you could gear your papers in a certain direction.

“I love communication, but I really love behavioral change. I didn’t want a psychology degree, but I realized that sociology, psychology and communication theories overlap. I could tailor my degree to what I wanted because I was in the right field for that.”

For over 20 years, Price has worked part-time as a wellness coach at Weight Watchers in St. George, Utah. She is also a self-employed health coach.

“The online format worked out well, but it took some getting used to,” she said. “Back when I was going for my bachelor’s degree, I connected well with classroom learning. I didn’t even know about the Internet, so the learning curve was steep.

“I had to learn the technology and go back to school after 30 years. I did it, though. I loved studying at my own pace because I could study whenever.”

Big Energy

Price is from Warren, Utah, and graduated with an associate degree from Dixie State University (now Utah Tech University) in 1990. Three years later, she completed a bachelor’s degree in health education from Utah State University.

“I have always loved health, the way the body moves and functions,” she said. “I was on speech and debate teams in college, so it seemed like professional communications and behavioral change communications was a marriage of things that I loved and felt that I was good at.”

During the time that Price was in SUU’s online master’s degree program, her three adult children — Levi (27), Ashton (24) and Brooklyn (21) — were also in college. She and her husband, Aaron, also have a daughter, Leighton (6).

“Leighton knew that her mom was in school,” she said. “I would hear her tell her friends, ‘If my mom has time to study, she’ll finish by Halloween.’

“As a mom, I felt like my kids were excited for me. I was doing something challenging, so I felt a lot of pressure to make sure I did well.”

Qualitative Communication Research was Price’s favorite course in the online M.A. in Professional Communication program curriculum.

“It impacted how I did my thesis,” she said. “I didn’t love the data of quantitative research, but I liked the qualitative and looking for patterns in research material. I found out that I love to do research. I also used it my whole life but didn’t realize I was doing it.

“Learning different ways to analyze media and writing has helped on a personal level. I am looking at things with more perspective. I can recognize things that aren’t true and question where the proof is. It’s hard to know what’s true these days.”

Mindful Productivity

As a bonus to earning a degree, Price will walk the graduation stage with Ashton next year when she also completes SUU’s online M.A. in Professional Communication program.

“I am waiting to walk in May so we can walk together,” she said. “I am so excited. She’s so excited, too. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications, so nothing was new to her — it was all new to me. My adult kids were very encouraging. Brooklyn graduates from a different school the next day.”

Now that Price has a master’s degree, she is eyeing a new chapter in her career while continuing to learn the nuances of human behavior.

“I would like to teach some classes as an adjunct professor,” she said. “I live where there are two close universities — SUU and Utah Tech. There’s nothing available to teach this coming semester at SUU, but we are going to stay in touch for the fall.”

Price believes it’s important to make the online learning experience as personal as possible with faculty and classmates.

“I would recommend meeting your professor as soon as possible,” she said. “Reach out to them and make contact. Because of that, I established a relationship with them.

“They would have helped me anyway, but because I was a little unsure of myself, they helped me a little more because I had the initiative. They were so kind and quick to respond.”

One social media post by her son changed Price’s life. She believes that with a master’s degree, the change is just the beginning.

“I had good skills when I started, but they are much better now,” she said. “Getting a master’s degree opens different types of doors. It’s a great program.”

Learn more about SUU’s online M.A. in Professional Communication program.

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