STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)-This is the weekend that many students at Mississippi State University have been working so hard for.


Both traditional and online students will finally be able to accomplish their goals when they walk across the stage in their cap and gown and receive their diplomas.

More and more people are opting to take classes online rather than in person.

Many of the new graduates at Mississippi State have never  to Starkville prior to graduation this weekend.  The university’s Distance Learning Program doesn’t require them to set foot on campus while they’re earning their degrees

For David Kilgore, graduating from MSU with a bachelors degree in geosciences has always been a life long goal of his.

And on Friday, he accomplished that goal.

“Well it’s a mix of nervous excitement and the feeling that it’s finally done, it’s over with,” said Kilgore, an online graduate from MSU’s Distance Learning Program.

However, the journey to reaching this point was anything but easy for the MSU grad.

“Total years have been 17,” Kilgore explained. “Now I know that seems like a long time, but I’ve been going half-time while being employed back in Virginia. I went for 3 years starting in 1999 to 2001, then as the old saying goes, life happened.”

Which led to him taking a ten year break from school due to financial reasons.

“And then when that pause happened for ten years, it was, I’m never going to get it,” the graduate recalled.

But Kilgore continued to push through and he enrolled back into online courses to finish pursuing his degree.

“I think for me personally it actually worked better than being actually on a campus because I’m more of an independent worker,” said Kilgore.

The MSU graduate credits the Distance Learning Program for helping him develop life skills such as accountability.

“There’s that part of me that’s always worried about, OK what do I have to do tonight,” he said. “Let’s see I have this homework to do in this class, I have an exam I have to do.”

“You do have to be a lot more mindful of deadlines and effort and communication is huge to keep in touch with people,” said Thomas Pepin, an online graduate from MSU’s Distance Learning Program.

It took Thomas Pepin four semesters to earn a masters degree in business administration from the program.

He was working and living in Ontario, Canada, while taking the the online courses, and he admits, being an online student takes a lot of motivation and determination.

“You don’t see a professor in person,” said Pepin. “It’s different, and you don’t have students around you who are always reminding you about things, you don’t have the chatter.”

“In some ways you get a lot more personal interaction because it’s more one on one. And in our classes we have video lectures that the professors make and we out them online so it’s the same material,” said Kathleen Sherman-Morris, Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences at MSU.


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