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May 30, 2014 — Wendy Stone took a bit longer to receive her University of Wyoming undergraduate degree than most students, but she didn’t think it would take 35 years.
And then she kept on going, recently earning a master’s degree. With a family, she didn’t have to leave her Cheyenne home to earn her graduate degree from UW.
Stone and Caitlin Bohnenblust, also of Cheyenne, were among the first 14 graduates in the program that allows students to obtain their UW Master of Arts degrees in English without leaving their hometowns.
The distance education program is offered by the UW Department of English and the UW Outreach School. Courses are taught using video conferencing technology and hybrid instruction, with a one-week residency in Laramie each summer.
Many of the students teach in Wyoming public schools. Twelve of them marched in the UW College of Arts and Sciences commencement ceremony Saturday, May 10, in UW’s Indoor Practice Facility.
Stone hopes her higher education degree leads to a promising career as she seeks employment, as many students do this time of year.
“An M.A. degree in English should be valued in any field that uses language and rhetoric and cultural literacy,” she says.
The UW distance master’s degree program delivers classes to a limited number of students so there is an opportunity for meaningful discussion and interaction among students and faculty, says Susan Frye, Outreach School dean. She says award-winning Department of English faculty members teach the classes.
For a Master of Arts degree in English, each student wrote a master’s thesis directed by a faculty adviser, after completing the required coursework.
“The program’s curriculum offers a wide range of courses that appeal to a variety of interests, while providing a well-rounded background in English studies,” Frye says.
It was a long time coming for Stone to achieve her goal.
She first enrolled at UW in 1976 and finally graduated in 2011. In between, she had a family.
“I don’t recommend the 35-year plan,” she says jokingly. She adds that it can be difficult to earn the requisite credits for an English degree off-campus, but she and her daughter moved to Laramie for a year while she attended full time at UW.
Later, she moved back to Cheyenne and learned about the distance master’s in English program offered through UW.
“I never expected to earn an English M.A. from UW in a nontraditional manner, and when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at it,” she says. “It is nice to live relatively close to Laramie, but much nicer to not have to drive across the summit on dark winter and spring nights. I am grateful to those UW professors who made this possible.”
A second cohort group will begin the program in June.
More information about the program, including requirements and coursework, can be found by visiting www.uwyo.edu/outreach/ocp/degrees-programs and selecting English, or by calling the Outreach School at 1-800-448-7801.