Forever Grateful to be a Mountaineer
July 27, 2022
By Angie Berna Miliren, WVU Online Ambassador
On a cold and blustery day in February 2018, I found myself at the gym chasing the proverbial carrot on the treadmill. I had just received notice that a project I was working on for my school district was accepted by the Apple Distinguished Schools program.
As I trudged forward in my workout, I had an epiphany. As a classroom teacher, If I could create a media project that would gain my district's attention, I could be even more effective as an Instructional Designer.
A quick Google search for degrees in Instructional Design yielded several options, including West Virginia University.
The next day, I asked my administration for letters of recommendation and applied to WVU.
Developing Lifelong Friendships
I first spoke with Dr. Ugur Kale on the phone when I had questions about the program. He is such a kind man. I later drove to WVU to meet him and begin my road to my doctoral degree.
In my first semester, I met Dr. William Beasley, who is a great motivator and a wonderful lecturer. I took every class I could with him throughout my academic journey. Alongside Dr. Beasley, I presented at several conferences, and he continues to be one of my greatest supporters.
I thought I would not become so close to my professors and my classmates as an online student. However, I found the relationships created as we met online and worked on group projects in many classes to be honest and true.
One does not have to meet in a physical classroom to develop lifelong friendships.
Finding my Research Path
When I needed to select my research path, I fell in love with qualitative research. I have always been interested in math and science and shifting to a qualitative approach really pushed me to try something new.
I opted to take several classes in person, on campus. While there was an option to remain fully online, I didn’t mind the one-hour commute from Fayette County, Pennsylvania, to Morgantown and I was able to spend a few hours a week with friends.
Qualitative Statistics with Dr. Melissa Sherfinski was the first time I had ever had a professor (or teacher) tell me that I was a decent writer. She cheered me on with every assignment.
It was because of her class that I continued on to take Advanced Qualitative Statistics and then Phenomenology.
Every class was interesting and challenged my perceptions of the world.
Being a Mountaineer has Radically Changed my Life
As I stood upon the precipice of defending my dissertation a few months ago, I realized that the faculty at WVU are first-rate.
The courses pushed me to grow academically.
My world was broadened and the way I think has changed.
I feel incredibly fulfilled.
I have found a family of Mountaineers who have remained close as I graduate from WVU and who will remain close for many years to come as I continue taking on new challenges in my career.
Being a Mountaineer has radically changed my life for the better.
In the fall of 2021, I came to another turning point. I opened my laptop to find an invitation in my inbox to become an Ambassador for WVU Online.
I was ecstatic to have an opportunity to represent my West Virginia University.
Proudly Wearing my Mountaineer Gear
As a teacher in a public school near Pittsburgh, I have always celebrated “College Shirt Thursdays” where I proudly wear my Mountaineers gear.
I think it is important to share my journey in higher education with my high school juniors and seniors. I encourage them to visit campuses and to find the one that speaks to them.
I then share with them how WVU was the perfect fit for my life.
What I Tell Prospective Students
- I specifically chose WVU because my coursework was available fully online, and I would not need to drive to campus after working a full day as a teacher.
- The online venue also made it possible to work several jobs while being a student and I worked on coursework when I had time.
- While all my classes were offered online, I decided to take a course or two on campus and became even more enamored with Morgantown.
- As an Ambassador, I can share with prospective students the process of learning online and its convenience.
- WVU has provided me with a top-rate education from world-class professors.
- One is never too busy or too “on in one’s years” to pursue a degree.
WVU Online is Family
I feel like I am an important part of the WVU family, and I am incredibly proud to have been selected as an Ambassador. I cannot wait to share my excellent experiences with prospective students.
My goal is to welcome as many students into the online school as possible.
WVU has changed my life for the better.
I am forever grateful to be a Mountaineer.
I wrote this posting as I was preparing to defend my dissertation. I received my degree at the May 2022 commencement.
Before the ink was even dry on my diploma, I was hired by Pennsylvania Western University – Global Online as an Instructional Designer. The education provided by WVU prepared me to walk into my dream job. My opportunities are limitless, and my future is bright thanks to WVU.