Learning online: “I made it work” - Nov 20, 2013 - Distance Learning Center - UW-Superior News and Events

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Learning online: “I made it work”

Posted on Nov 20, 2013
Part of a 35th anniversary series of interviews with alumni, faculty and staff
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Cindy Theien, Class of 2001

Cindy Theien, Class of 2001

We sat down recently with alumnae Cindy Theien '01 to talk about her experiences learning online. Would she do it again? "Absolutely. It opened my mind, and it opened doors."

What led you to enroll in the UW-Superior Extended Degree Program?
I wanted a bachelors' degree - I had worked in banking since high school, I had married and raised a family - and by 1996, I was ready to go to college. The UW-Superior Extended Degree Program [now, Distance Learning Center] was perfect for me.

Did you work while you attended UW-Superior?
I was vice president of Superior Community Bank. [The bank was purchased by National Bank of Commerce in 2008, where Cindy now works in the bank's mortgage department.] My employer was very supportive; they allowed me the flexibility to pursue my degree. By combining online classes, evening classes and sometimes saturday workshops, it was doable.

Were your children at home when you pursued your bachelors' degree at UW-Superior?
My daughter was in high school, but my son had just started at UW-Superior too.

Had you taken any college classes before you enrolled at UW-Superior?
My employer had provided continuing education for me - I took courses at the American Institute of Banking, attended seminars at the Graduate School of Banking in Madison for several summers, and I took night classes at WITC.

What was your major?
I designed my own program: Accounting/Finance - Business - Economics - Communications.

Do any staff or faculty stand out in your memory?
My advisors were wonderful: Marianne Frye was my first advisor, and then Faith Hensrud. Bob Beam made economics fun, if you can believe that; Al Katz was wonderful; and Anthony Bukoski was such a good teacher. I had fabulous, top-notch professors.

Any favorite classes?
I took a class in diversity and I learned so much. It was a topic that I wouldn't have run into otherwise in my path of life. I gained a much better understanding of the issues that Native Americans and African Americans face, and have faced, in our community. It really opened my eyes.

Was it difficult to juggle work, family and school?
I made it work because I wanted it. And I loved it.

How was your experience with online courses?
I did well with my online classes; you just need to be self-motivated and stick to your deadlines.

You were 44 years old when you graduated; do you remember any funny stories?
Sometimes when I arrived for a class, students mistook me for the instructor. But the best story is this - I was required to take physical education. It turned out that my son, who was also enrolled at UW-Superior as a freshman, was in the same class as me!

Did you go through your graduation ceremony?
Yes I did. It was so awesome - what a feeling! The whole family was there to celebrate with me, and they were very proud of me - I graduated magna cum laude. As the oldest of six children, I was the first in my family to graduate from college. And at 44 years old, I was the oldest in my graduating class!

Would you recommend the Distance Learning Program?
Absolutely; it has influenced my life and helped my career. It opened my mind, and it opened doors.

News Contact: Mary Zimmerman | mzimme11{atuws}
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