A Walk and a Handshake

by ABBY TOMLINSON

June 13, 2008

Technology is responsible for the ability of individuals to complete a degree at a distance, but Texas Tech University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources is responsible for giving Tara McKnight of Wichita Falls, Texas, the ability to reach her goals.

"I needed a masters to continue work at my job," McKnight said. "My undergraduate degree is from Texas Tech, so I wanted my masters to come from there, too." Her career as a county extension agent required that she begin work on a masters; however, her work schedule made it difficult for her travel to a university to take classes, so distance education was an obvious choice for her.

"Through distance education I was not only able to obtain my masters and keep my job, but I was also able to increase my knowledge of agriculture and horticulture, which makes me better at my job," McKnight said. While pursuing her online degree she traveled to campus three times; her last trip was the most important one. Her final visit to Lubbock, Texas was to walk across a stage, shake a hand, and become a graduate of Texas Tech University again.
"I figured, I put a lot of time and effort into this degree," McKnight said of her decision to walk at graduation, "I wanted to celebrate." There are many students that complete a degree through distance education at Texas Tech who decline the opportunity to walk across that stage, but a diploma is not the only thing that McKnight received that day.

"My best memory is getting to see my committee chairman, Dr. McKenney. She helped me so much through the program," McKnight said. Describing herself as motivated and dedicated, McKnight seemed to see completing her masters at a distance as just another challenge that she was glad to have accomplished.

"Distance education might not work for everyone," McKnight said, "but it works well for people who are unable to travel, and those who cannot attend school as a traditional student but need an education."
"It was exactly what I needed," McKnight said.

For more information about online programs offered by Texas Tech University, please visit www.de.ttu.edu or call 800.692.6877, ext. 293.

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