Four years later as I accepted my diploma on a stage in an auditorium in Dallas, I silently thanked my brother who did not live long enough to see me see it through for giving me the right perspectiveForget the four years in between. Suffice it to say that earning a masters degree, even one or two courses at a time, while working full time does not leave time for very much else. Let's cut to the big finish: May 20, 2006.
By the spring semester of 2006, enrollment in the SMU graduate certificate program at my company was down to two students: myself and Ming. About eight of our fellow students had graduated in May 2005, but Ming and I had started a semester later and, unlike many of that first class, had never taken more than two courses at once.
The last several semesters had been all on DVD -- with so few students the company would not fly in the professors. Distance learning has many pros and a few cons. One important pro for SMU engineering students is the staff in Dallas who work with the distance students. Debra, center above, was our lifeline. Ming and I made a point of finding her in her office when we got to SMU the day before graduation.
Her warm Texas welcome confirmed that we'd each made the right choice by coming to the ceremony. In fact, all of the professors and staff who we met during our visit expressed great pleasure that we'd traveled to Texas for the event. And we were hardly in the minority many of our fellow graduates were distance students who'd also travelled from all over the country.
Cue card for the diploma ceremony.