Posted on February 8, 2021 by Amanda Cerreto

If you looked up the term "lifelong learner" in the dictionary, there might be a good chance you would see Mark Stewart's photo next to the definition.

Mark Stewart Stewart never specifically planned to earn such a title, but found himself earning degree after degree - some at the same time - in order to maximize his long-term employment opportunities.

Stewart began at UTSA majoring in psychology with a minor in economics. From there, he earned a master’s in health and kinesiology , continuing his pursuit of health education. After working on a grant project during the recession of 2009, he knew he needed to pursue a different path that would make him more competitive in the job market.

"I thought, if I could do anything, what would I do?" Stewart said. He narrowed his options to occupational therapy and demography, knowing the need, flexibility, and balance both fields provided. After starting a PhD in Applied Demography , he was accepted into an occupational therapy program and pursued that path instead, knowing the difficulty of getting accepted into the OT program.

After working a few years in the health care field, Stewart did more research and discovered the newly developed MS in Applied Demography program . “I was always planning on getting some kind of statistics degree,” he explained. “Seeing UTSA had a master's program, and that some of my credits would count toward it - it made my decision easy.”

Stewart enjoyed his experience in the program, especially the close-knit community. “It's a small class cohort so you get more familiar with your classmates,” Stewart said.

Associate professor Corey Sparks made the difference for Stewart in the program. “He was really helpful and was a mentor for me,” Stewart said.

Now that Stewart has another master's degree in hand, he plans on looking for work using the statistics and data background he has acquired through the program - but not before acquiring a few more certificates to bolster his already impressive cache of degrees.

“I'd like to get a GIS certificate, and a data science professional certificate,” Stewart explained. Coupled with his applied demography degree, Stewart believes this will make him an ideal candidate for a data analytics position.

“I think the MS in Applied Demography is really versatile,” Stewart said. “It can be applied to public health, epidemiology, marketing, and more.”

While Stewart has no immediate plans to earn another degree, he hasn't ruled it out. “Going to college and getting a degree isn't the right way for everybody,” he said, “but I love it.”

— Amanda Cerreto