CORVALLIS, Ore. – Nearly two dozen military service members and veterans are traveling to Corvallis from as far away as American Samoa and Maine to participate in Oregon State University’s 146th commencement Saturday.
The distance students will receive their diplomas after completing course work online through Oregon State Ecampus, the university’s online education program. A record 590 distance learners are part of OSU’s graduating class of 2015, a group that represents 46 states and 10 countries.
The flexibility of online learning is ideal for military personnel, whose studies are often disrupted by deployments or transfers. The new graduates say OSU’s status as a national leader in distance education made the university attractive and gave them a pathway to new career opportunities.
“It’s an accomplishment 19 years in progress. I never finished my degree after graduating high school, and I have always felt I left things unfinished,” said Stuart Broadway, an environmental sciences major stationed in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, for the Coast Guard.
“Earning this degree online is the only way I would have been able to complete it. I’m proud that my children have been able to see me working hard on this journey.”
Rhonda Wise served in the Navy for 13 years as an electronics maintenance technician before transitioning to civilian life. A resident of San Antonio, Texas, she home-schooled her children and thought her days as a student were over until she found Oregon State’s online program in natural resources.
“This is a field where I have a passion … and it’s exciting to think of all of the possibilities and opportunities that are available now,” Wise said. “It means the beginning of a new chapter in my life.”
Saturday’s ceremony caps a banner year for Ecampus, which introduced several in-demand programs, including a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and garnered two top-five national rankings from U.S. News & World Report. Last month the magazine ranked OSU’s online bachelor’s programs No. 4 in the nation for military veterans.
“We’re dedicated to providing veterans and members of our military with the resources they need to thrive as students while they serve our country,” Ecampus executive director Lisa L. Templeton said. “It’s an honor to provide them and all of our learners with access to an OSU education wherever they live.”
Ecampus will host its graduates Saturday in The Valley Library from 7:30 to 9 a.m. The commencement ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. at Reser Stadium.