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The first-class ticket to a degree: Oregon State Ecampus

Ecampus alumna Calais Bickford-St. Pierre sits sideways on a long, curved wooden bench. She is looking down at a silver tablet that rests against her knees.

Calais’ enrollment in Oregon State University Ecampus allowed her to learn on the go and travel across the world while she earned her degree in environmental sciences with a minor in business and entrepreneurship.

By Jenna Jarvis 
April 16, 2018

Students come from all over the world to go to Oregon State University. Some travel from one state over, some come from an entirely different country.

But what about the people who don’t want to settle down in one place? The nomads, the ones filled with wanderlust and a need to see the world, not just read about it?

For people like that, a traditional learning experience inside the four walls of a classroom isn’t going to cut it.

For Calais Bickford-St. Pierre, pursuing a degree online was her passport, and Oregon State University Ecampus was her first-class ticket.

Her journey began in her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. She was on track to earn a degree in biology at the University of Alaska Anchorage until the opportunity arose to live with her dad and sister in Australia. Calais soon realized her ties to home were actually holding her back from her future.

She remained enrolled in online classes at UAA, but her interests had changed. She was certain of two things: She no longer had a passion for biology, and she no longer wanted to be tethered to a physical campus.

“I didn’t have to be at a certain place at a certain time, which was really nice to be anywhere in the world and be able to get a degree.”

In Australia, Calais decided she wanted to change her major to environmental sciences, a subject she’d been interested in since high school. After researching online degrees, she came across the Oregon State Ecampus bachelor’s program in environmental sciences and was intrigued by the many positive reviews from former students and the flexibility the program offered.

“I didn’t have to be at a certain place at a certain time, which was really nice to be anywhere in the world and be able to get a degree,” says Calais, who earned her B.S. in Environmental Sciences in 2017.

While an Ecampus student, Calais traveled to Bali, Hawaii, Seattle, California, Florida, back to Alaska, through Europe, and around Australia. Wherever she chose to go in the world, her education could always follow.

Calais stands in an exercise studio with an orange wall and looks into the distance to the left. She has her hair tied back and wears workout clothes and holds a white towel around the back of her neck.

Calais discovered her interest in health and fitness early on. “I realized that I was really passionate about helping people,” says Calais. “So I started a health and fitness business that’s all online.”

She also enrolled in an Oregon State leadership course online that instilled in her a sense of self-discipline that she further developed as an online learner. The leadership course and Ecampus as a whole taught Calais “a lot about self-management of time and self-discipline and how to lead people,” she says.

There is a high level of independence and self-discipline that is required for both online learners and traditional students, but no matter what form an OSU student’s education takes, there is a plethora of resources and support for them to lean on.

In Calais’ case, she took advantage of online tutoring for a physics class, which allowed her to communicate one-on-one with a faculty member and work at her own pace.

“I utilized online tutoring with a few of my classes and liked having the ability to access a tutor whenever I needed,” says Calais, who minored in business and entrepreneurship. “It made online schooling that much more doable.”

Since graduation, she has continued to use the skills she developed through her Ecampus experience in her career as an online fitness coach and instructor. She’s creating programs for fellow online learners that allow them to learn on the go, anywhere in the world, just like she did.

Calais’ education has taken her around the world, and in a few years she plans to move to Paris for her next adventure.

“Anyone that asks me, they’re in business, they have families, they’ve got crazy lives, and they just don’t have time for school, I tell them about Oregon State Ecampus,” Calais says. “It’s so flexible and I loved it so much.”

Jenna Jarvis is a student marketing writer for Oregon State Ecampus.

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