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Up in the air, but laying a strong foundation

Hannah Thelen seated outdoor against a white wall. To her right is her husband. The two are holding a puppy with brown fur, which lays on its back in their arms and looks playful with one front paw in the air.

When she’s not deployed for months at a time, Ecampus business administration student Hannah Thelen is stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, where she lives with her husband. Her next steps will land her in the Pacific Northwest to use the skills she’s earning through her degree at a company that aligns with her passion for the outdoors.

By Julie Cooper
July 30, 2018

Ask most college students and they’ll tell you their future career plans are up in the air. But for Hannah Thelen, her current career is – literally.

In August 2013, Hannah began her service in the United States Air Force where, through specialized training and education, she became an airborne cryptologic linguist.

She’s responsible for translating intelligence communications received or intercepted during flight to provide threat warnings that aid in maintaining the safety of her teams.

To earn this prestigious title and set herself up for success in this role, Hannah attended courses at the Defense Language Institute for a year and earned two associate’s degrees through the Air Force.

Despite her sharp skills, her career path seemed less clear when she asked herself what would come after separating from the military at the end of her enlistment.

Hannah set a new goal for herself: Earn a top-ranked degree that would set her apart in the workforce.

Having already proven she can successfully earn an education while actively serving in the military, Hannah enrolled in Oregon State’s bachelor’s in business administration degree program online after her search for the most military-friendly online degree programs directed her to Oregon State Ecampus.

Hannah Thelen wearing a solid green Air Force uniform with patches on it, including an American flag on her left upper arm.

“For me, it’s important that there’s a military representative at the school who understands military issues like deployment and can help explain things to advisors and professors and vouch for me,” Hannah says.

The ROTC detachment on OSU’s Corvallis campus signaled to Hannah that her unique challenges as a student would be understood and accommodated.

“For me, it’s important that there’s a military representative at the school who understands military issues like deployment and can help explain things to advisors and professors and vouch for me,” she says.

The flexibility offered by the online program isn’t just a perk for Hannah – it’s essential. Her responsibilities shift constantly, whether stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, where she lives with her husband or deployed for months at a time.

Although she’s attending Oregon State from a distance, she envisions the Pacific Northwest in her future and is planning to put down roots.

By pairing the extensive skills she gains through her business degree with the steadfast determination of serving in the Air Force, she plans to work in marketing or accounting for a large Pacific Northwest company that aligns with her passion for the outdoors, such as REI or Nike.

“I chose the business administration degree because it covers a lot of things – marketing, finances, accounting and more,” says Hannah, who is on track to graduate by summer term 2020. “My classes have set me up for those types of positions. Having to apply what I’ve learned to different projects is going to help me be successful when I get into the job market.”

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