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Living amongst Kodiak bears was not the only challenge for Western Governors University
graduate Jennifer Tenney. While doing her coursework at WGU to earn her Bachelor
of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, she lived in a remote area of Kodiak, Alaska.
Jennifer had always dreamed of becoming a school teacher. She earned her associate
of arts in early childhood education from Yakima Valley Community College in Washington,
but found it difficult to imagine earning her bachelor's degree because she was
working three jobs. That's when her husband decided they needed a change in their
life; he found a new job and they relocated to Alaska so Jennifer would not have
to work and could go to school.
Jennifer found WGU in an Internet search and decided to continue her education online.
She chose WGU because it is accessible to everyone, even in the remote place where
she lived. She said, "WGU is great for people who live away from a college or university
and have a busy schedule that has to be worked around," she said. "It's not always
easy to get the classes that you need at a traditional school when you are working."
Living in Alaska made Jennifer's experience as a student different from most. She
had dial-up Internet at her home and had to fight with the weather to get Internet
access. When it stormed, the Internet would go out. She did not have a library nearby
that she could use, so she became very familiar with the WGU library, and also learned
to search the Internet. Going anywhere within a small distance of her home required
taking a gun because of the Kodiak bears. Taking assessments was no walk in the
park for Jennifer either. She had to make appointments to take them at the local
school district offices — which she could only get to by boat or float plane.
She would schedule the assessments and hope the weather was good enough to get there.
On a float plane, the trip to the local district office was about 30 minutes, and
by boat it was an hour. She had to re-schedule assessments often because the weather
did not cooperate and the lakes would freeze over.
Although Jennifer met many challenges while earning her degree, she persevered and
was able to graduate in November 2007, after completing her student teaching in
Washington. She and her husband moved back to White Swan, Washington, after three
years of living in Alaska. Jennifer now teaches fifth and sixth grade math at Mount
Adams School District in White Swan. "[Getting my degree at WGU] has meant that
I can fulfill something that I have dreamed about for a long time," Jennifer said.
"I have always wanted to be a teacher, and it gave me a way of achieving that dream."
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