With 22 years of experience, Denise Massie M ’22 is introduced to a new world of HR through master’s program

Denise Massie M'22 stands in front of a sign for Packaging Corp of America where she works in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The sign reads P-C-A.

With more than two decades of experience in the human resource field, Denise Massie M ’22 returned to the classroom where she says Bridgewater College’s master of science in human resource management (MSHRM) program has introduced her to a world of HR outside of what she’s known for 22 years. 

Massie works full time at Packaging Corporation of America (PCA), a manufacturing company in Harrisonburg, Va. After molding her accounting associate role to incorporate both HR and accounting, she was promoted in 2013 to Human Resource Representative. Her job duties still include some accounting but are mostly centered around HR functions such as recruiting, onboarding and workers’ compensation. 

“Having worked in HR at the same company for 22 years, a lot of what I am learning I am familiar with. Having said that, I am learning a lot about HR outside of my own little world,” Massie said. “My professors have very diverse and different backgrounds, which makes the classwork interesting, and I am learning different aspects of HR through them. I have been given the ability to fine-tune functions of my job and make my position more efficient.”  

A love of people is what led Massie to the field of HR, and the ever-changing field of human resources led her to BC’s MSHRM program.  

“In today’s world, human resources deals with topics that we would never have thought about 20 years ago. I’d been thinking about getting my master’s for a while, and when I saw the classes that were offered in the MSHRM program I thought they would be very helpful in my career. I also really like the fact that the MSHRM program could be completed in a year,” Massie said. 

Already having the desire to obtain her master’s degree, Massie made the decision to apply for the program after her husband of 20 years died of cancer in December 2020. She said she realized that no one knows what the future holds and to always make the most of the time you have.  

Although she works full time at PCA, Massie balances work and school by doing assignments on the weekends and reading textbooks on her lunch breaks while still making time for leisure and fun. 

Before enrolling at BC, Massie attended Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., for two years to study religion and sociology. She returned to school in 2007 at National College in Harrisonburg, Va., where she graduated in 2013 with a degree in business administration and a minor in accounting. She recommends BC’s MHSRM program to anyone looking for a strong background in HR. 

“I think it gives a good foundation to people who are entering in a career in HR. I really like that, unlike the MBA, it focuses solely on HR,” she said. “I have also found it to be very helpful for me at this stage of my career. The MSHRM program introduced me to some new things, such as HR globalization and HR analytics. I have learned that some of these different ways might be better and could help solve problems in my current job.” 

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