I had the pleasure of listening to a panel of graduate students from USC Rossier Online, MPH@GW, MHA@GW, @WashULaw, and MPA@UNC where they discussed their journey to complete their online degree programs. During the session I was struck by a profound sense of gratitude and pride. It isn’t often that I can listen (and have a personal connection) to people who have the goal to improve society. We often get trapped in our daily lives. Stepping back to actively listen to these students’ stories was the highlight of the conference.
“If I am in London I can open my computer and be online with colleagues; judges from Taiwan, parliament members from India, practitioners in Morocco, and then be able to close it and jump right back into my professional life.” — Matthew Johnson, @WashULaw
From establishing models that will impact public health in Kentucky to empowering adults with disabilities in New Mexico, the graduates embody the spirit of reimagined higher education. The elimination of geographical barriers to learning was expressed as the critical component in the students’ ability to continue to do great work in their communities and be active agents of change. Ryan Rotunda, an MPA@UNC student, mentioned how his program had a direct application on his everyday life because it is “centered on the practices that you will apply directly to what you are doing. The program felt like it was planned perfectly for my life.” Lauren Sullivan, a USC Rossier student echoed the sentiment:
“I live to be involved, I don’t think I could be [involved in my community] if I didn’t choose the one at USC Rossier where I can impact Higher Ed and my community.” — Lauren Sullivan, USC Rossier Online (EdD student)
Knowing that I have had a small part in helping students achieve their goals gives me a sense of pride. In working with universities to provide such a quality experience, students are able to pursue career and personal goals without having to uproot their lives. As Matthew Johnson put it, “I didn’t want to move my family, to put my life on pause to complete my work requirements.”
“First things first, No parking permits required… I realized how much time I lost dealing with transportation.” — Jonathan Smith, MPH@GW
Everyday that we walk into work it is about delivering the appropriate student outcomes. The opportunity for students to interact with faculty and colleagues along with the scope and strength of the interactions makes me proud to have a hand in the process.