For Alisha Mainer, of Erwin, Tennessee, working on computers just comes naturally.

She loved solving puzzles as a kid and sees that hobby extending into her job as a PC specialist at Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc., Erwin, a subsidiary of BWX Technologies.

“A computer is just like a puzzle to me,” said Mainer, who earned her bachelor’s in Computer Information Systems from Milligan in 2012. “When I take all of the pieces out of the box, all jumbled up, I love getting to put them together.”

That passion for technology fueled her studies in Milligan’s CIS program, which she said, “Gave me the knowledge of all those parts and pieces” that she enjoys putting together. When Mainer entered the job market after graduation, she was quickly employed full time at Mountain States Health Alliance (now Ballad Health) and then the Department of Justice in Greeneville and Knoxville.

It was Mainer’s goal, however, to work at the global corporation located right in her own backyard of Erwin. When a position opened at NFS, Mainer applied and said that Milligan’s reputation followed her, impressing her employers and helping earn her the job.

Now, with experience under her belt and a desire to advance in her career, Mainer wasted no time in applying for Milligan’s new Master of Science in Information Systems degree. In fact, she was the first student accepted into the program, which launches this fall. She hopes to learn project management skills and take the next step in her career at NFS.

Milligan’s MSIS degree is designed for working students like Mainer—it is a 14-month online/hybrid program consisting of 10 courses with a maximum residency of five Saturday sessions. It focuses on best practices in analysis, design, communications and security for information systems development, plus management and implementation in real-world business. The cohort-based program will pair with three classes in Milligan’s MBA program.

Mainer said that one of the reasons she wants to return to the college for graduate school is the faculty.

“They’re great,” said Mainer. “The faculty are very kind and always willing to help.”

In particular, she is fond of computer science professors Dr. Carolyn Carter and Dr. Teresa Carter (no relation), a sentiment that is reciprocated.

“Alisha was a joy to teach in undergraduate courses,” said Dr. Carolyn Carter, associate dean of the William B. Greene, Jr. School of Business and Technology. “She has worked very hard to achieve her long-term goal of obtaining a position at NFS, and we look forward to having her return to Milligan in our new master’s program as she continues to expand her knowledge of the field.”

While she enjoys the technical side of her work, Mainer also loves fostering the passions of aspiring athletes, helping young girls pursue their passion of basketball. She came to Milligan on a basketball scholarship and said the four years playing under Head Coach Rich Aubrey taught her invaluable lessons of leadership and teamwork—something she has instilled in her athletes.

In Milligan’s MSIS program, Mainer hopes to put the pieces together of her skills in technology and leadership—both critical in the fast-moving world of computer technology.

Learn more about the program at www.milligan.edu/msis.