2012 OSU Ecampus graduates

Mike Ryan – Dedication makes the coast look clear and promising

B.S. in Environmental Sciences
Seattle, Wash.

Mike RyanWhat does earning your OSU degree mean to you?
Earning my degree is a major accomplishment. I’ve been in the military for almost 10 years, and for most of that time I’ve been simultaneously working towards my degree. I’ve had to transfer several times, transferring credits and having to meet new requirements at several colleges and universities along the way. I’ve also supported a wife and son for much of that time as well. Yet I maintained my class load and have managed to make it to this point with an in-house GPA of 4.0.

It has taken me a very long time to get here, and I’ve sacrificed a lot of time and effort to achieve this degree. Yet I couldn’t be more proud. From here I want to start a master’s program and get into an ecology field. Right now I investigate marine pollution incidences for Puget Sound here in Seattle for the Coast Guard, and with my degree I’d like to get into a state or even federal environmental or natural resource agency.

Why did you choose to complete your degree online through OSU Ecampus? What did you enjoy about this method of education?
I chose to complete my degree online through OSU Ecampus because of my busy schedule. I attended college in Virginia in 2004, but was transferred to Texas in 2005. I was then transferred to Portland, Ore., in 2007. All that transferring through the military hindered my ability to graduate, as each university had different degree programs, different requirements, and may or may not have accepted some or all of my transfer credits. I needed stability in one school to finish my degree, and my job didn’t allow for that. I also got married and had a son during this time, and my responsibilities kept me tied to work and home.

When I got to Portland, I looked around for schools with my program and discovered OSU’s Ecampus and the Environmental Science program. This allowed for my busy schedule while maintaining classes, gave me the perfect program, and allowed for stability even as I again had to transfer to Seattle in late 2008. And I’m transferring back to Texas again this coming summer after commencement. Thus I’m extremely grateful to OSU for Ecampus. I enjoyed being able to attend school from home the most, despite my work schedule and family responsibilities.

Did you have an instructor or advisor who was influential in helping you succeed as a distance student?
All of my instructors were extremely helpful and did an excellent job at teaching the courses. However, I can’t think of any that stand out more than the others. One of the drawbacks of an online program is the lack of personal contact and instructor approachability. In the Blackboard forum, they may answer emails or discussion posts, but it’s not nearly as personable, and their attention is divided among all the student participants. My academic advisor, however, was extremely helpful and was very approachable. Erin Lieuallen is my academic advisor, and she has been very patient with all of my questions and my many changes, and has guided me through the academic process for much of my time at OSU. I am very appreciative of her help.

What will your Ecampus degree allow you to do that you were unable to do before?
I hope to work for an environmental or natural resource agency of some kind in the future. Currently I work for the Coast Guard investigating marine pollution incidences of petroleum product and hazardous materials discharges into or around Puget Sound, as well as enforce federal marine environmental pollution laws. I also regulate waterfront facilities and hazardous materials shipments for compliance of federal pollution prevention laws and regulations. This job is my foot in the door, allowing me to gain valuable experience in the environmental field and serving as my experience background.

My degree will serve as my necessary educational background. Many environmental and natural resource agencies have a five year minimum work experience requirement, as well as a B.S. requirement in a relevant field. Between my work experience and this degree in environmental sciences, I feel that my opportunities are vast. I would like to go on for my master’s in ecology, which will further improve my career opportunities, and this degree serves as the necessary foundation. It has also helped me better understand the world around me and the current human condition and its relation to the environment, which I believe has vastly improved my life.

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