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Nearly 400 from all over the map finish their OSU degrees online

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s ability to impact the world will be on display Saturday when nearly 400 distance students receive their diplomas, including graduates from a record 41 states and eight countries.

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Four OSU students gather in Germany last fall after becoming friends in an Ecampus online degree program. From left to right, Jessica Graziano, Emily Sliman (2012 graduate), Sarah Benjamin and April Albers will all hold a master’s degree in education from OSU after this weekend.

A total of 386 OSU students completed their course work this year through Oregon State Ecampus, the university’s nationally acclaimed online education department. This group of graduates – from locales as far away as Abu Dhabi, Puerto Rico and Russia – symbolizes OSU’s expertise in providing students with global access to invaluable educational experiences.

“Our learners come from very diverse backgrounds and have unique needs, and it is our mission to create high-quality learning environments in which they can thrive,” said Ecampus executive director Lisa L. Templeton. “Now they join the ranks of thousands of OSU graduates who will move on to embrace new opportunities, and we’re excited to see what lies ahead for them.”

As Ecampus continues to expand the quality and variety of its program offerings, the stories of student success and collaboration also increase. The class of 2013 includes three classmates – and a fourth peer who graduated last June – who excelled in the online classroom and became close friends despite living as much as 5,000 miles apart from one another.

April Albers (Oregon City), Sarah Benjamin (Germany), Jessica Graziano (Anchorage, Alaska) and Emily Sliman (Netherlands, 2012 alumna) formed a bond in OSU’s K-12 Science and Mathematics Education online master’s program, and they did so while becoming part of a vast network of educators.

“It was an incredible experience,” said Graziano, a middle school math coach who will take part in Saturday’s commencement ceremony with Benjamin and Albers. “I can’t stress enough how the class format encouraged and mandated collaboration and allowed me to meet amazing colleagues from around the world.”

Ecampus annually serves more than 13,000 students and for the second straight year is ranked one of the nation’s 10 best providers of online education by SuperScholar. Among the newest of its 30-plus offerings is a post-baccalaureate program in computer science, which launched last summer and has 36 students in its inaugural graduating class.

The program’s accelerated, one-year track option generated immediate interest, as it enables adult learners juggling work and family commitments to carve out a new career path – or enhance an existing one – in merely 12 months.

“I always had a passion for computers and electronics, and the Ecampus program gives me that formal education to be able to transition into a field where I have a passion,” said Ato Jackson-Kuofie, who lives with his wife and two young daughters in Lewis Center, Ohio. “Without it, I wouldn’t be able to find quality employment.”

OSU students being awarded diplomas Saturday include those who are expected to complete degree requirements this summer and fall.