Jacquelyn Ingros speaks frequently at education events around the Washington, D.C., region, explaining why pursuing a postgraduate degree can be vital to personal and career development, despite the challenges that come along with it.
“I’m the poster child for having obstacles in your life,” Ingros said. “But people come to me to hear my story about how I got to where I am today.”
Ingros is a lifelong epileptic who developed Lyme disease as a college student, just as her epilepsy was intensifying. Her frequent seizures and hospitalizations caused her grades to plummet; as a result, she lost her merit scholarship at a small liberal arts college.
“I wanted to be a swim-and-rescue diver with the Coast Guard, or join the FBI or become a cop,” she said. “But I can’t do any of that. A lot of my dreams were ripped away from me slowly as I realized what I can and can’t do.”
After struggling through her sophomore year, she returned home to Burke, Va., to be with her parents, who agreed with doctors who said she should take a break from school. That wasn’t going to happen.
“I am so glad I did not listen to them,” she said.
She applied to George Mason University—just three miles from her house—and was accepted as a junior English major. What she found at Mason was a supportive community of professors and administrators who worked as hard as she did to ensure her success, she said.
With that help, and despite a prolonged recovery from surgery to curtail escalating seizures, she graduated on time, and on the Dean’s List.
Ingros is now a master’s student at Mason’s Schar School of Policy and Government, a devotee of the Organization Development and Knowledge Management Program and an active advocate of graduate school, making speeches about Mason and the benefits of grad school in general to prospective students at educational events such as last fall’s Virginia Council of Graduate Schools’ Commonwealth Graduate Education Day.
Until recently, in addition to studying for her degree, Ingros worked in business development at Carahsoft, a government IT contractor. That’s where she discovered her career calling.
“I realized what I love doing is helping companies improve outdated systems and train new hires with an eye toward millennial behavior,” she said, which led her to her current degree program.
“I can go to school and love what I’m doing.”
Her accomplishments, as well as her determination, have been noticed.
“Jacki embodies the values of the ODKM program,” said Tojo Thatchenkery, director of the program and a leader in the field of change management. “She is actively engaged in community building among students, alumni and other stakeholders.
“Thanks to her natural gift of intellectual curiosity and appreciative intelligence, I envision a bright future for her in the field of management consulting and organization development.”
“No doubt about it,” Ingros said, “Mason was where I needed to be.”