“When I chose to pursue higher education, I was active-duty military and not able to relocate to a city that had a four-year college or university. WSU was one of the few universities that embraced distance education and truly cared about the online educational experience. They offered a level of connection that other educational institutions overlooked—a sense of community. This is one of the quintessential aspects of the college experience that WSU offers to each and every online student. WSU’s online degree program translated to many opportunities for me to develop my character, leadership, and research skills.
Many online students feel anonymous. While they may be receiving a good education in their chosen field, they often don’t feel any sense of community or connection with their peers or the institution they are attending. This is where WSU excels and certainly exceeded my expectations. As an online student, I was encouraged to participate in student government. As a result, I took on the responsibility of representing the online student body as a Senator and then as President. A student government dedicated to representing the online student body is something that I had never come across when I was looking at other distance degree programs. This was an indicator of how serious WSU took its responsibility of offering a world class education to all of its students, whether they be in-person in Pullman or online. This rewarding experience allowed me to advance online student interests in collaboration with the WSU administration, including then president, Elson S. Floyd. These leadership opportunities allowed me to earn the WSU President’s award twice (2006 and 2008).
The opportunities didn’t end there. National honor societies included online students, allowing them to participate in induction ceremonies and activities to the greatest extent possible. I was able to enter my research into the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA), for which I won the WSU Global Campus Scholar Award. I was later asked to come back and serve as a judge in SURCA as well as for the Graduate and Professional Student Association’s Wiley Expo. Other opportunities to connect included Coug Day at the Capitol, which allowed students to meet with elected representatives and advocate on behalf of their fellow students. The activities available to students also included trips to museums, zoos, and sporting events. All of these events served to promote a sense of community that is often missing in online education.
Through WSU, not only was I able to earn a bachelor’s degree, I was able to gain a community of which I will always be a part. This is an aspect of higher education that WSU understands. Academics certainly come first, but there are also many other paths to gain enrichment—and that is what sets their online program apart from the rest. Being able to attend WSU not only set me up for success professionally, but it also helped me grow as an individual and become a better person. For that, I am forever grateful to be a WSU Alum. Go Cougs!”