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School of Public and International Affairs

NC State Online Grad Inspired to Pursue Career in Higher Education

When Maria Fabiano enrolled at NC State after graduating from high school in 1995, she never imagined that her educational journey would lead her back home to graduate with the Wolfpack 28 years later. And, she is not done yet!

Fabiano started a career without finishing her degree, got married in 1998 and started her family in 2000. Though she had a good life, not graduating bothered her because she grew up in a family that valued education.

“All of my family members have advanced degrees or work in advanced positions, which inspired me to complete my education, albeit later in life,” Fabiano said. “My mother is a pharmacist, my father is a chemist with a Ph.D. And, I have three sisters; one with a master’s degree in nursing, one with a business law degree, and one with a Ph.D. who is the Chair of the Art History Department at Colorado State University.”

She started to take classes at Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) in 2002 and earned two associate degrees in 2021. She works full time as a regulatory investigator and inspector for the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy (NCBOP) but still longed to advance her education.

“Fast forward to the spring of 2023, and I am graduating with top honors, Summa Cum Laude, with a B.A. degree in Leadership in the Public Sector (LPS) from NC State Online! And, I have been inducted into the nationally recognized Society for Collegiate Leadership & Achievement,” Fabiano said.

Why Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree from NC State Online?

Fabiano was searching for a program that would work with her busy lifestyle. She needed to find a flexible program with course content she was genuinely interested in pursuing. 

“Even after getting two associate degrees, I felt like my academic career was not complete, and I wanted to engage in something that would highlight my natural leadership abilities,” Fabiano said. “I searched the internet for options and fell flat with results because nothing piqued my interest in the online course offerings. Then, I looked up NC State just for giggles, and those giggles turned into full-blown elation when I saw that NC State offered exactly what I was looking for — and it was flexible and affordable.”

She said the Leadership in the Public Sector degree-completion program “checked every single box” needed to complete her undergraduate degree while fitting into her lifestyle. In addition, her credits earned at CFCC transferred seamlessly to NC State.

Advice and Inspiration

Organization is key to succeeding in an online educational program according to Fabiano. Although working, keeping up with school, and taking care of your family is challenging, it is possible if you can compartmentalize and use checklists, she said.

“Every Monday morning, I would begin my week by writing down my work and school responsibilities, assignments and deadlines. Without this level of organization, I would have been lost.”

She went on to say it is important to also schedule some “me time” periodically. She learned from personal experience that you will feel overwhelmed if you overlook this aspect of self-care. 

Fabiano recommends getting to know your advisors and instructors and using the assistance they willingly offer.

“One of the inspiring faculty members I value is LaShica Waters,” Fabiano said. “As my advisor, Dr. Waters helped me navigate the NC State system and enroll in classes that would help me in my future endeavors. She has always been helpful, knowledgeable, and available. For that, I am forever grateful!”

In addition to Waters, Fabiano appreciates working with Internship Director Tracy Appling, and Assistant Professors Frank Perry and Dan Bolger. They were all excellent mentors, she said.

“Overall, my favorite classes at NC State were Dr. Bolger’s history classes,” Fabiano said. “He is the primary reason I decided to pursue a master’s degree in history. His knowledge, charisma and classroom inspiration encouraged me to pursue the path of working as a college instructor in the future.”

Fabiano considers her experience with NC State Online to be “one of the most challenging but rewarding times” in her life. She encourages anyone who procrastinated with getting their degree to “seek out NC State to achieve their goal of a higher education.”

Fabiano plans to attend the LPS departmental graduation and the larger university commencement ceremonies with her entire family, and she was selected as the LPS commencement speaker. “After 20+ years of waiting for this accomplishment, you bet I’m going to celebrate!”

Are you interested in completing your bachelor’s degree or advancing your career with a degree from NC State Online? Visit for a full list of degree and certificate programs.

This post was originally published in DELTA News.