Master Sergeant Jeremy Klinger (pictured at right) is not the type of person to let obstacles get in the way of achieving his goals. Even if those obstacles include war. An 18-year veteran of the United States Air Force Klinger serves as an F-15 production superintendent, a job that has taken him on deployments to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iceland, Korea, Afghanistan, Korea, and Abu-dhbi. He is also a University of Mount Olive student with a goal of seeking his BAS degree in business management.
Because of multiple deployments, much of Klinger’s coursework and communication with professors has been done through computers some 7,000 miles away from the College’s Goldsboro location on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base (SJAFB). In Afghanistan he studied in a tent he shared with seven other airmen. There were plywood walls separating the men. The sound of jets taking off could be heard around the clock. To read and study, he used a small lamp. Occasionally, his studies were interrupted by mortar attacks. In Korea the conditions were better, but Klinger still struggled with poor internet connections. Through it all, he relied on the support and guidance from University of Mount Olive staff and faculty.
“The instructors were very understanding with the situation,” Klinger said. “If there was a deadline for homework or a test, they would extend it to accommodate the huge time difference. Without the online classes, I would not be as far along in my degree progression. Focusing on my studies while deployed also made the time go by faster, and gave me a sense of normalcy to my otherwise chaotic surroundings.”
To keep students like Klinger engaged and on track faculty at University of Mount Olive use a variety of techniques. In trying to emulate the professor-student interaction as much as possible Associate Professor Ted Janicki utilizes online discussions, online exams, and he even creates a virtual classroom experience through a program called Second Life.
“I have been associated with eight different universities and colleges throughout my career,” Janicki said. “Not one of them accommodated military students as well as University of Mount Olive. I received my undergraduate degree on a military base from a University that has campuses on numerous bases. They were good to military personnel, University of Mount Olive is GREAT! I have seen the professors and staff bend over backwards to educate our military students and their family members. It is our intention to do everything possible to help these military students graduate with a solid education. They are out there protecting our freedom. It is our responsibility to take the stressors of an education out of their equation. It all comes back to making ourselves available.”
On average, University of Mount Olive has 1,200 students enrolled per term in online classes, typically active duty or dependant military students account for 400 of those enrollments.
According to Dr. Opey Jeanes, vice president for Special Services at University of Mount Olive, “Active duty military are extremely interested in the virtual approach to taking courses, and many of our students continue to work on their academic programs during their time of deployments. Conversely we are committed to working with our military students so they stay on track, even while deployed.”
University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The College, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.moc.edu.