Successful Students

Stories of Successful Online Students

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“Challenging, but worthwhile”

Karl, MBA student

When Karl finished his undergraduate degree in graphic design in 1999, the Internet was still relatively new. He thought his specialty as a web designer would give him long-term career security.

"Now, pretty much, my job can be done by any 15-year-old kid in their basement," says Karl. He decided to pursue a master's in business administration. He knew the degree would give him more options in business and help him avoid being pigeonholed in the creative area. After taking nine courses through another college, Karl transferred to Saint Joseph's and enrolled in the MBA Leadership program.

"I learned more in the first class that I took at St. Joe's than in all the other courses I completed at the other school," he says. "The work (at Saint Joseph's) is challenging, but it's worthwhile. You're pushed, but you're not overwhelmed."

Now he works as a creative brand manager for a national promotional products distributor in Maine.

"The market is changing so fast... I can see the wave coming and I can either find a new path to get out of the way of it or just get wet," says Collier. "In five or six years, I'd like to be able to look back and see that I have a good stable of those now-15-year-olds working for me."

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“Juggling family and school”

Pat, theology student

Recent graduate Pat is more involved with his local parish in Fresno, Calif., now that he has completed his Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies. For the last five years, he was committed to completing his degree, but was also committed to his family. "I dedicated one weekend a month to my studies, and most evenings after family time. Family is always first, before work or school. And Sunday was always family time."

Gordon's job responsibility as human resources director for the Fresno Diocese required frequent travel across the country a few years ago, but he always took his books and laptop. Similar to other students whose families accommodated their academic life, Gordon is very appreciative of his wife, Cathy. "She was very understanding and very patient," he says.

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“Flexibility to work around full-time jobs”

Michael and Kristin, education students

When Michael and Kristin enrolled in a Saint Joseph's College master's program, they knew they were sending a powerful message to their three teenagers about the value of education. At the time, they didn't realize the lesson would involve a road trip.

The Brunos, who graduated together with master's degrees in education, found the program flexible enough to work around their full-time jobs - Michael as a master sergeant in the Oregon Army National Guard and Kristin as a high school physical education teacher. Though they helped each other to revise and edit papers, they generally kept to their own path.

"My wife is a real early bird - she can get up at 5 in the morning and start studying. I don't even know my name until 8," says Michael. "She could get three hours of work done and I'm just having my first cup of coffee."

Though they took most of their courses from a distance of 3,000 miles from the college, the Brunos participated in two on-campus summer sessions. During the summer of 2002, the couple and their children traveled by minivan across the country from their home in Oregon. After leaving the kids with family in New Hampshire, Michael and Kristin settled in as roommates on campus. They sat side-by-side in classes, studied at the library, and even started putting on the "freshman 15."

Michael and Kristin feel closely tied to the Saint Joseph's community. The connection remains strong, even after graduating. "The support services at St. Joe's were phenomenal. My academic advisor was like my mom .... When she was no longer my advisor, I still e-mailed her," Michael says.

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“They're always helping out.”

Renee, degree completion student

Renee knew she would need extra help from her instructor to master Algebra II - so she took the course during a summer session on the Saint Joseph's campus. She was understandably upset when she received a failing grade on her mid-term exam. It came as no surprise to her, however, that the college provided instant support.

"My advisor, Sandy LeBlanc, is awesome... she called me up and she was talking to me kind of like a big sister. 'Renee. Are you going to be all right? We can stay late - you can get some extra help,'" she recalls Sandy saying. "They're really good like that. They're always helping out."

That help has taken many forms over the years as Renee finishes her undergraduate degree. Renee's advisor helped her to choose courses and contact her professor with questions - and reminded her when papers were due. Renee appreciates the telephone and e-mail messages that maintain her connection to the college.

Like many distance-education students, Renee juggles her studies with other commitments: holding a full-time job and raising two sons. While pursuing her degree, she rose through the ranks of a Maine bank to the level of vice president of consumer lending. She now works independently as a personal mortgage consultant.

"I'm a firm believer that you need to have that degree. I was kind of embarrassed thinking I didn't have a degree," says Pottle. "I want my boys to go to college."

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“I'm so proud of you.”

Darlene, B.S. Nursing student

Moments before graduating with her B.S. in Nursing, Darlene was surprised to see her 18-year-old daughter, Lauren, appear by her side among a sea of black gowns and swinging tassels. "(Before the ceremony started), she helped me put on my hood and made sure I looked okay. She mothered me like a little mother hen," says Darlene. "She kept saying, 'I'm so proud of you.'"

Darlene, who has now embarked on a master's degree program in health administration at Saint Joseph's, realizes that earning a college degree at age 55 offers fringe benefits. Her daughters have received a powerful lesson in the rewards of higher education. "I graduated with honors and Lauren was very, very proud of that too," she says. "It demonstrated to her that you can accomplish a lot with hard work and perseverance."

Darlene trained as a nurse through a diploma program 30 years ago. By 1995, she realized that a bachelor's degree would open new job opportunities for her. She now supervises 50 people in a home health and hospice organization in Georgia.

While studying toward her BSN, she held a full-time job along with a part-time position and was raising two children. Without Saint Joseph's flexible program, her course work would have been impossible. The college accepted some of her previous credits that other schools refused to honor and her advisor also provided invaluable guidance. "St. Joe's helped me to grow spiritually, mentally, everything," she told a colleague who's interested in returning to school. "It gives you a lot of self esteem knowing that you can complete something like this later in your life."

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