Concordia University-Portland Online Master of Education graduate Oliver Okumba Arigi, arrived on the Portland, Oregon, campus for the first time with his wife and daughter. They had traveled from Milton, New Hampshire, for a weekend of commencement activities.
Los Angeles-area resident Evelyn Javelosa, who earned an online MEd in Education Leadership, told everyone that she “was blessed” to have an understanding family while she worked online to get her degree. “My husband and my children were very willing to be supportive and helpful while mom was on the computer,” she said with a laugh.
And to the casual observer, Joy Straub of Vista, California, and Stephanie Lahrman, from El Paso, Texas, acted as if they were sisters or BFFs for years. The truth: Straub and Lahrman had never set eyes on each other before graduation weekend. The two met when they were members of the same online master of education degree cohort.
“What’s great is just finally being able to meet Stephanie after all the hours of phone and email so,” Straub said. “I appreciate this opportunity to be able to do that.” Added Lahrman: “We learned more from each other than we did from the professor, I mean the professor was the facilitator” of our learning.
A weekend to remember
It was a weekend of never-ending highs when approximately 75 members of Concordia Portland’s online Master of Education graduates and their families attended the May 4 graduation.
The weekend for the online Master of Education degree program grads began with a formal dinner at the downtown Portland Crowne Plaza Hotel. The online MEd graduates and their guests were welcomed by Concordia University-Portland president Charles Schlimpert, and Dr. Joseph Mannion from Concordia Portland’s College of Education. They were joined by a host of other online and university officials and administrators.
Saturday’s whirlwind of events started with an 8 a.m. breakfast on the Concordia Portland campus. Grads and their families and friends gathered in the university’s library lobby to eat and listen to Trish Lichau Shields, Dean of Concordia University-Portland Online. Later, the gathering split up into smaller groups for guided tours of the campus.
“It is very cool to be able to study with students that have a different point of view depending on the different situations they are in,” said online MEd graduate Kris Werner, who brought his wife along to see him participate in the on-campus ceremony. “Students in my cohort were in Iowa, New York, Florida, Afghanistan, and I was in Canada. So we had all these differing views.”
Saturday afternoon was dedicated to the Graduate Commencement Ceremony. The online students, attired in caps, gowns and academic regalia, were handed their Master of Education degree right along with their on-campus counterparts. After the ceremony, tears flowed as the online grads received hugs and congratulations from their family and friends.
“My wife was incredibly supportive,” said Werner. “My dad has wanted me to do a master’s degree for 10 years.”
Multiple degree programs
Concordia Portland offers master degree programs in a cutting-edge online learning environment. Best of all, more than 80 percent of students enrolled in Concordia Portland’s online master degree program graduate with their desired degree.