When Broadway closed during the pandemic, stage manager Cheyney Coles used the time to pursue her degree—online, on her time.

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When Broadway closed during the pandemic, stage manager Cheyney Coles used the time to pursue her degree—online, on her time.

Cheyney Coles lives for the theater. So much so that when she got a chance to work backstage at a Tony Winning regional theater company, she leaped at the opportunity. She left her bachelor’s degree program at the University of North Texas (UNT) and started working full-time.

Over the next ten years, she gained a world of experience. She even made it to Broadway, working as a stage manager. But then things took a turn in 2020. She and her team had just successfully opened “The Girl From The North Country” when COVID-19 hit. Audiences went into lockdown, theaters closed, and Cheyney was suddenly adrift.

Despite all the real-world experience she’d amassed, she was worried about her job prospects, given that she’d never completed her degree. She wanted to go back to school and earn her credential, but returning to Dallas and giving up the next three years of her life didn’t feel like the right choice. 

That’s when she discovered that UNT offered an online Bachelor of Applied Arts Sciences (B.A.A.S.) program on Coursera. She reached out to an advisor, who walked her through the options. It proved to be the solution she was looking for. She could stay in New York and work at the accelerated pace she set for herself to be able to graduate before Broadway reopened.

“The online BAAS program offered access that I had never seen before in a degree. I got a bunch of classes done at once.”

The real-world management experience she’d already developed combined perfectly with the foundational skills taught in the program. As she progressed towards her degree, she realized she was building expertise that she could not only bring back to Broadway, but that she could leverage to bring to any management role in any field. “It makes me happy to know that I have a broader skill set and that, soon, I’ll have a degree that helps me to take my management skills anywhere.” 

Cheyney graduated this December while working on her show—which is now back on Broadway (tickets are on sale!). A fellow classmate she befriended in the program is also at a new job, while both finishing her degree and being a single mom. Cheyney sees their parallels and recognizes the value the program offers them: “This degree is for people like me; like us. It makes something possible that used to feel impossible. I don’t know if I would have ever gotten my degree if I hadn’t joined the B.A.A.S..”

The University of North Texas’ Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (B.A.A.S.) degree is the fastest, most affordable way to complete your bachelor’s degree online from a top 9 research school in Texas.