Monday, December 21, 2009

Germanna student takes online courses in Iraq, bringing new meaning to 'distance learning'

For an American contractor thousands of miles away in Iraq, taking Germanna Community College classes online really is "distance learning"
Matthew Strickland, a Germanna student from Spotsylvania, is getting closer to earning his associate's degree online while he works for a private contractor providing support for the U.S. effort in Iraq.

He took a story genre literature class in the Fall, and his experiences in the Middle East might be expected to provide fodder if he eventually writes some himself.

"I joined the Army when I was 17, so I was unable to attend college in the traditional way," Strickland said from Iraq after completing an exam online last week. "I began my career with the 25th Infantry Division, and being in the infantry it was difficult trying to find time to take classes--especially after 9/11 hit. Since then I have been slowly chipping away at my degree in business administration, mostly online, because since both of the wars started, I've spent a lot of time in either Afghanistan or Iraq."

Cheryl Huff, who taught an online Introduction to Short Story Writing class that Strickland took this semester, said: "He's a wonderful student, though I worried everytime I heard of a bombing or shootings in Iraq."

"But his work is very high quality and I have really enjoyed having him in the class, contributing. I've been flexible because of the circumstances, but he is very conscientious."

Strickland said he appreciated the personal attention and understanding.

"I thank Germanna and its staff very much for allowing those of us who are unable to attend classes on campus the opportunity to further our education. These days especially, it is important to have a high level of education, and a degree is a must in today's job market.

"My grandfather was in World War II and his life in the states was basically on hold until he returned from the war.

"These days that is not the case. Thanks to schools like Germanna we can continue to better ourselves through distance learning and not fall behind our peers.

"I've attended a few different online schools and Germanna's distance learning program is by far the best. All of my professors have been very supportive and flexible. They've understood that there are times that I don't have internet access and they have always been fair."

Strickland also has to devote time to talking to and writing to his family. "I'm married and have children, so distance learning helps me balance work, family time, and allows me to complete my coursework at my leisure." His wife Maria also attends Germanna and will be starting the registered nurse program soon. "She also loves the flexibility that Germanna offers," he said. "She is the most wonderful woman I know, she is even busier than me but still is able to further her education thanks to Germanna. We help each other out and motivate each other, I would definitely not be as successful without her."

"Germanna," he said, "is hands down the best institution for distance learning."


Anonymous said...

God bless Matthew and his family. I appreciate his service to our country. Keep up the great work! This is distance learning to the extreme.

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