MGA Student’s Unexpected Move Across Country Won’t Derail Her Degree

Author: Sheron Smith
Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2019 12:00 AM
Categories: Pressroom | College of Arts and Sciences | Students

Macon, GA

Sara Lynn Slagle in one of the photos in her modeling portfolio.

In late February, Sara Lynn Slagle got an offer she did not want to refuse.

A modeling agency offered the Middle Georgia State University student, a professional model since she was a junior at Macon’s First Presbyterian Day School, a chance to work in Los Angeles for two or three months – maybe longer. She could build her portfolio (her “book,” as they refer to it in the modeling industry) and potentially make some serious money.

But Slagle, 21, is enrolled at MGA this semester as she works toward a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. Dropping out was not an option. “I definitely want to finish my degree,” she said.

Because Slagle is taking all of her courses online, she saw no reason why she could not make the move and still work on her degree. Even if she ends up staying in California longer, MGA’s advising center stands ready to help her keep going.

“A few years ago it might have been a lot harder,” said Sandy Little-Herring, an MGA transfer specialist advisor who has worked with Slagle. “But more degree options at Middle Georgia State are available entirely online now. Pursuing a degree online is not necessarily for everyone, especially undergraduates, but it can be a game changer for students with the right attitude and self-discipline. They can literally move anywhere for a job and not miss a beat.”

It’s a relief to Slagle, who moves to Los Angeles in a few days to work with the Meraki modeling agency.

Faced with a choice between the move and staying put to finish her degree, Slagle said she would have picked school. “I’m glad I didn’t have to make that choice,” she said.

Slagle, the daughter of Dan and Georgia Slagle of Macon, got her first modeling job at age 16 after a professional agency scouted her. In the summer between her junior and senior years of high school, Slagle worked modeling jobs in London, accompanied for part of the time by her mother. She continued to model clothing and jewelry for commercial websites while finishing high school and beginning college.

Eventually signed by Ursula Wiedmann Models in Atlanta, Slagle first enrolled at Valdosta State University but admits her heart wasn’t in it. She dropped out after a semester to travel for a while, then enrolled at Middle Georgia State when she learned about the interdisciplinary studies degree. Taking most of her courses online – including core courses offered through the University System of Georgia’s eCore initiative - gives her the flexibility she needs to work on a degree and continue to model.

MGA’s Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies allows students to design their own programs of study and pursue an education built on their unique interests, backgrounds, and career goals. In addition to core requirements, students complete at least 15 hours of coursework in a single disciplinary concentration.

Slagle chose marketing as her concentration because she felt she could apply it to her current career if she continues to get opportunities. But while she has already experienced a good bit of success, Slagle is the first to admit that modeling is a tough, competitive business. She wants to be prepared to move in another direction if necessary.

“It’s a degree that gives me options,” Slagle said. “Taking courses online has helped me developed good time-management skills. I think I’m prepared to make this move for this kind of opportunity. My parents are so supportive, but I’m not sure they would be if they didn’t think I would keep working on my degree.”

One of her first moves, made before she even arrives in Los Angeles, is a good sign. Slagle arranged to room with another fashion model who already lives there, a woman she met while working in London. Her roomie is proof of what’s possible for Slagle.

“She’s a full-time model and a full-time student,” Slagle said. “She’s working on her master’s degree at UCLA.”