Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2012 12:00 am
KWC grad completes 1st online degree
By Megan Harris Messenger-InquirerOwensboro
Dallas McCarthy marked a milestone this month when he completed his final assignments for Kentucky Wesleyan College. The 28-year-old father of three is the school's first online graduate since the program began in earnest in 2009.
Leah Hoover, associate dean and director of online education at KWC, said the budding program has grown from a few pupils to almost 60. McCarthy will join another online degree-seeking local, Tim Clothier, in the school's commencement ceremony next spring.
"It's really grown quickly," Hoover said Friday. "We have three programs — business administration, general studies and criminal justice — and we're just getting started."
Hoover said it takes "serious dedication" to join the largely successful online group.
"It requires so much more self-discipline," she said. "You have to make effective use of your time."
Professors, she said, give students small stepping stones during the week with quizzes and discussion forums to keep them connected to campus life. Of her 52 current students, about half hail from Kentucky with several studying out of state, one in Germany and two active-duty soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
"Most of our online students are working adults," Hoover said. "I'm impressed that these people can come in working 40-plus hours a week, go to school full time, balance their family lives and still come out with top-notch grades. It's really something to be proud of."
McCarthy, who finished with a 3.38 grade point average, said he spent every free minute of the last two years pouring over textbooks, often at the expense of time he wanted to spend with his growing family.
"It could be hectic at times, and my wife, Wendy, she was really patient with it all," he said. "I took my schoolwork to work, spent breaks doing the reading and sacrificing sleep to finish papers and quizzes. It took a lot of missed time with my wife and children to make this happen."
Crediting God, he said he's now trying to relearn what it's like to relax.
"It's been such a long road getting here," he said. "This whole last year has been nothing but a countdown. Just sitting down feels weird, you know? For so long everything has been about getting this done."
McCarthy transferred to KWC in 2010 with an associate's degree in arts from Owensboro Community & Technical College that he earned in 2004.
With a newly acquired bachelor's in business administration, he said he hopes to move up at Southwire, where he's put in 12-hour swing shifts as a production planner for the whole of his college experience.
"With my schedule, there's no way I could've ever made it to campus," he said. "That's why the online program was critical to me going back to school."
Megan Harris, 691-7302, firstname.lastname@example.org