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Posted on Apr 17, 2013 in Student Spotlights

Alumnus Shares How Conflict Skills Boosted Her IT Career

Annie DuttonAnnie Dutton earned her M.A. in Conflict Resolution & Reconciliation from Abilene Christian University after completing her B.S. in Computer Information Systems from Northwestern State University. Since she started working for Dell in 2006, Annie  has earned multiple promotions and currently serves as Communications Strategist, Office of CIO. Below Annie reflects on how the M.A. program impacted her work and personal life.

Sometimes we make a decision that has no small impact on our lives.  For me, one of those decisions was to enroll in ACU’s Master of Arts Conflict Resolution & Reconciliation program.

The processes and principles acquired through this program have had a definite personal and professional impact on my life.  They have also opened the door for an optimistic life and effective career.  Some of the key principles that were especially valuable to me were:

  1. Understanding how normal conflict is.
  2. Learning how to question my own virtue and motives.
  3. Learning how to discover a world of possibilities for a solution.

Through the combination of theory and practical application of these principles, I learned how to stop judging others and better understand my own role in conflict.  As a result my motivations in conflict changed. Now, I give others the benefit of the doubt and listen before speaking.  Consequently, a space is created for clearer discussion of the problem at hand.

Professionally, I began to see things from a more strategic level. I learned to anticipate what others needed because I was better able to understand them and their motivations.  As a result, I have been lucky enough to find myself in a new role that seems custom made for my talents.  It feels less like “work” than anything I’ve done thus far in my career.

However, the biggest change has been in my own outlook on life – my own world view.  To a very large degree, this program helped me find and define my faith in God.  I grew up going to church, so this feels like an odd statement to make.  However, the weaving of biblical principles into the curriculum had me wrestling with some questions that I carried for a long time.  The program provided the opportunity to process those questions and come to peace on how I needed to meet God on a day-to-day basis.  It confirmed His power and provided confirmation that the dynamics of human interaction are no mistake.

Since graduation, I have been able to step into mediation sessions and help people reach a mutual solution.  I have also been able to step into meetings at work and provide a level of value that I would not otherwise have been able to offer.

I suppose the ability to finish the program with skills to help other people is something that still surprises me and exceeded any expectations I had upon entry.  Nevertheless, I have more to learn… much more.  My goals are to provide an environment that allows people to get to the heart of issues, recognize their role in the problems and solutions, and to create room for questions instead of judgment.  I am certain that enrolling in the Conflict Resolution program was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I have been blessed by the leadership and guidance provided by the faculty who truly exemplify the principles they teach.

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