Gaytanna’s success balancing family, work and Purdue Global

Gaytanna McGuire accepted a promotion while earning her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Purdue Global. (Purdue University photo/Kelsey Lefever)

Gaytanna McGuire accepted a promotion while earning her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Purdue Global. (Purdue University photo/Kelsey Lefever)

How 20 years of experience at Walmart gave this working mom 50 credit hours toward her online bachelor’s degree

When Gaytanna McGuire (BS business administration ’24) decided to leave college at 19 to pursue a managerial position at Walmart, she thought her educational journey was over because her professional career had begun.  

College is expensive, and with a promotion in hand, she felt the best option was to continue moving up the ladder into a leadership role. So McGuire focused on working hard, making money and gaining hands-on experience — which, in the end, paid off.  

Twenty years later, that professional experience turned into 50 credit hours toward her Purdue Global bachelor’s degree in business administration. 

“Your path is your path,” McGuire says, reflecting on her journey back to school. “It’s OK that how you get there is going to look different from others. Embrace it and make those improvements for yourself.” 

Gaytanna McGuire

Every next level of your life will demand a different you.

Gaytanna McGuire  BS business administration ’24

Earning a degree 20 years into a career 

As a successful professional in the corporate world, what led McGuire back to school? Like so many other Purdue Global students, it was the opportunity to rise even higher.  

By 2019, McGuire had served at Walmart for 20 years and had received several promotions, but she found herself only able to make lateral moves within the company. As a senior manager in the Asset Protection Division, after working 13 years in the same sector, she was looking for a change.  

“I knew that if I really wanted to move beyond the senior manager level, into director, senior director or officer level, having a degree in my corner would make me even more competitive as an applicant,” she says.  

With the goal of taking her career to the next level, McGuire chose Purdue Global because she knew the university would take into account her considerable professional experience. She met with the Purdue Global Alternative Credit Center and showcased the skills, abilities and knowledge she had gained in her 20 years at Walmart. She ended up starting her bachelor’s degree program with 50 credit hours. This was exceedingly advantageous as it allowed her the option to take one course at a time. The added flexibility helped her balance her professional and personal life and stay on track to graduate in a timely manner.  

While enrolled in her Purdue Global degree program, McGuire accepted a promotion into Walmart’s Global People team. The work she does is extremely important to her; she loves that her role involves ensuring that company culture is nurtured and thriving. 

In her new position, she stays busy managing projects and traveling. And as a wife and mom of two, life doesn’t slow down at home. With her kids in elementary and middle school, she appreciates that her coursework didn’t take time away from being with her family.  

“It’s not intrusive to things like serving my family and serving my community,” she says. “It has allowed me to stay involved in the things that are important to me.”  

McGuire recognizes that even with the added flexibility, family time might look different for some students, and that’s perfectly normal. In some ways, she thinks it could even bring other working parents closer to their kids’ schedules. “Your children are sitting down to do homework anyway. It’s OK to sit down with them,” she says.  

More than just staying involved with her children’s lives, McGuire is proud to be able to show them that not everyone’s path is the same. Her husband went to Purdue University right out of high school, which most people would see as the more traditional path. McGuire decided to follow a different route by starting her career before pursuing a degree. She’s able to show her kids that it’s never too late to get an education; it only matters that you work hard and stay dedicated to whatever you’re doing.  

“My kids see that even though life ebbs and flows, there’s always steps of progress that you can make if you stay motivated and stick with it. If you choose to do something, you can stick with it,” McGuire says, exemplifying to her children the mantra she lives by, “Every next level of your life will demand a different you.” 

Opening a new chapter 

In December 2023, McGuire celebrated 25 years at Walmart, and with her new degree from Purdue Global, she has been delighted to see how her education is improving her work. McGuire says, “Taking these courses has really provided the fundamental structure of what it is to take a project from inception and deliver it.” 

She has not only seen her work become more thoughtful and structured, but she also views herself as a better team member to her coworkers because projects progress more effectively. “The tools and resources that you get from Purdue Global courses are great at preparing you for the whole picture,” McGuire says.  

When McGuire first debated attending Purdue Global in 2019, she says, “I looked at what the potential graduation date would be, and I knew that date was going to come whether I enrolled or not. I didn’t want to come to that date and look back and say, ‘I could have handled that.’” 

Now with her bachelor’s degree in business administration, she doesn’t have to wonder. She won’t look back with regret — she’s looking forward to this new chapter of her life.