A Master's Degree for Working Professionals

Tleena Ives

June 28, 2022
Jenna Turner | Graduate Enrollment Management

Tleena Ives does not sit still.

Ives is the Director of Tribal Relations at the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families. Her division started with just 7 people and is now approaching 28. Ives is an active member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, a mother of four, grandmother of one, teaches as an adjunct professor, is working on a children’s book, and on top of everything she trains for Ironman Triathlons.

So, you can imagine when she decided she wanted to pursue a graduate degree she needed a program flexible enough to fit into her incredibly packed life. Ives took her time researching schools and when two of her friends graduated with their Master’s in Organizational Leadership (ORGL) from Gonzaga, Ives found her program.

“It's been a long time since I've completed my bachelor's degree. So, I felt like I was really picky and careful about what degree I wanted to work on and felt like this was the perfect fit for the role that I have and the schedule that I have. I felt like this is my answer because I had like three or four other schools that I was considering on and off for the last five or six years. I felt like I just need to do this.”

Ives continued, “I felt like this program, I chose because it seems to me to be something that won't just cast type me into one type of profession, that this degree is something that could apply to my work and my life. I feel like I'm a better relative also my hope is to be a better leader, a better boss.”

Like many students, Ives was at first concerned about learning online.

“I think I was pleasantly surprised with the online education experience and I kind of was maybe a little hesitant at first when I thought ‘how will I really learn much in an online program?’ and just felt like it was such a misconception that I had, that I was definitely proven wrong.”

In the end, all of Ives’ hard work paid off. She graduated with a 4.0, was inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu honor society, has advanced in her career and earned a raise.

“I feel like I have more opportunities that will be open to me with this degree, and so there will be continued return on investment in the future,” said Ives.

With a master’s degree added to her list of accomplishments, Ives looks to the future and her next steps in life and at Gonzaga.

“I feel like it would be really fun to think about how I hopefully may use my education to help support other Native women and Indigenous peoples in their pursuit of growth in leadership.”

Ives continued, “I'm not done’ and it will be a nice next step for me to continue on towards a PhD or possibly the Doctor of Educational Leadership. So, I just feel like the more I know, maybe the less I know, and that there's so much more that I am interested in.”


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