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May 30, 2014 — Molly Potas had her Meeteetse students in mind when she decided to enroll in a new University of Wyoming distance master’s degree program.
Potas was 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.
Potas teaches English to Meeteetse students in grades seven through 11, along with basic writing and English courses as an adjunct professor at Northwest College in Powell.
In a small, rural school, Meeteetse students do not have the opportunity for more advanced classes as those in larger Wyoming school districts, Potas says. She wanted to do more for her students.
“I wanted to give more educational opportunities to my students, so I decided to invest in an additional master's degree for the sole purpose of educational expansion for our high school students,” she says. “Not only does this degree give my students the ability to seek more educational opportunities; it gives me the ability to function as an adjunct English professor for Northwest College.
“This opportunity has given me a clearer view of the academic transitional process between secondary and postsecondary institutions, which I hope to entertain some additional work in the future for both high schools and colleges,” Potas adds.
The 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.
For the last three years, Potas spent each Thursday night in class from 7-10 p.m. at Meeteetse High School videoconferencing with her cohorts in the distance English class. Then, in the summer, she traveled to UW for more coursework. She received her undergraduate degrees in secondary education and English from UW.
“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to seek a master's in English through the University of Wyoming, versus a non-local institution,” Potas says. “It was highly beneficial to take courses from the same professors I had and admired in my undergraduate studies. This program gave me the opportunity to seek quality higher education from the remote location in Meeteetse.”
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.