ST. MARY-OF-THE-WOODS —
Tuesday Strong dropped out of high school at age 15.
Today, she is director of academic projects at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and has received three master’s degrees.
But she credits her success to a distance-education program offered at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, now called Woods Online. The Woods program “would be life-changing for me. It inspired me to believe in myself and empowered me to continue my education,” Strong said.
The college celebrated the program’s 40th anniversary Thursday, and Strong was one of the speakers.
In 2003, Strong received a bachelor’s degree in human resource management through the distance education program, then known as WED.
She worked full-time, but received much support from the college’s faculty and staff.
“I am proof positive that Woods Online changes lives,” Strong said. “I learned that no matter your circumstances, no matter where you’ve been, no matter who you are — it doesn’t define where you are going.”
The distance-education program has had thousands of graduates through the years, said Dottie King, SMWC president. More than 800 students are currently enrolled in the program from 33 states and all across the globe, including England, Greece, Hong Kong and Jamaica.
Introduced in 1973, the WED program was one of the first independent study programs in the nation, King said. Then-president Sister Jeanne Knoerle started it as a way to educate women who needed a nontraditional way to earn a degree.
In 2005, the college expanded access to its undergraduate distance program by enrolling men as well as women.
The program’s success comes from a blend of cutting-edge technology and meaningful faculty interaction, King said. “We’re high-tech and high-touch.”
According to Knoerle, when the program was started, only one other college in the country offered a full college education through an external degree.
“With somewhat quaking hearts, we established the WED program,” Knoerle said. “No one knew whether it was going to work or how it would be received.”
Forty years, and thousands of graduates later, it has been a success, college officials and students agree.
Knoerle said she’s also happy to see “the ways in which the various SMWC presidents have changed and improved and expanded the program to meet the always-changing times”
Other speakers were Gwen Hagemeyer, Woods Online director, and Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, who read a proclamation.
Hagemeyer gave special recognition to Sister Martha Steidl, who has taught classes in the distance education program for 40 years; she will step down from her part-time teaching duties in July. She had retired as a full-time faculty member several years ago, but continued to teach classes for the distance education program.
“She’s been a little bulldog when it comes to learning technology skills,” Hagemeyer said. “She had her first experience with webinars this year.”
Steidl has worked through many transitions — from project-based independent study, to structured courses that accepted assignments by mail and then email and now to a totally online program.
Asked about the changes in technology, Steidl said, “That’s life. It’s going faster and faster, isn’t it?”
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or email@example.com.
ST. MARY-OF-THE-WOODS —
Tuesday Strong dropped out of high school at age 15.
- Local & Bistate
Food assistance available Friday to families in need
Terre Haute Catholic Charities Foodbank in cooperation with B&S Plumbing Heating & Cooling Inc. are helping less fortunate families in the area by offering warm smiles and hearty meals this holiday season.
Companies unveil Indiana investment plans, 1,000+ new jobs
STATEHOUSE — Gov. Mike Pence and executives from seven companies announced today new investments in central Indiana expected to create a combined 1,013 new jobs over the next few years.
Vigo County Jail Log: Dec. 18, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Tuesday, based on jail records.
Environmental concerns will shorten new trail along river — for now
It’s easy to imagine, even on a frosty day, how scenic a planned new hiking and biking trail near the Wabash River will someday be.
Environmental Protection Agency says it is taking charge of lead cleanup
The federal government will be paying to clean up a 39-acre former industrial dump site along the Wabash River in Terre Haute.
New Rex owners lay out plans
The new owners of the Terre Haute Rex baseball team laid out their game plan Tuesday and asked for the community’s support to keep a good thing going.
Byron Sutton receives 40-year sentence for murder
A Terre Haute man received a 40-year prison sentence after admitting that he killed his handicapped brother last year.
Wood sentenced for part in fatal shooting
A Terre Haute man received a 10-year prison sentence in connection with a burglary attempt that involved a fatal shooting, but he was ordered to serve five years in community correction followed by five years of probation.
Terre Haute man not injured in Owen crash
A Terre Haute man was not injured in a fatal crash Monday afternoon in Owen County.
Blazing his own trail
The federal budget agreement reached last week in the U.S. House of Representatives was the “best deal we could achieve,” says U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-8th.
Indiana Supreme Court clears way for Rockport plant
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Supreme Court has cleared the way for construction of a coal-gasification plant in Rockport, Ind.
Indiana family trying to get back dog lost in tornado
MELLOTT, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana woman whose dog vanished when a tornado struck her family’s home last month says a person who adopted the dog from an animal shelter six days later refuses to return him.
Vigo County Jail Log: Dec. 17, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Monday and Tuesday, based on jail records.
Drilling for oil at ISU: Derrick debuts on campus
Drilling started on Monday in what many hope will be the first successful oil well downtown in more than 100 years.
Being “somebody’s librarian” has been important to Suzanne Van Reed for the past 51 years.
ISU joins opposition to HJR-6
Indiana State University faculty, staff and student governance groups are speaking with a united voice in opposition to HJR-6, a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
Judge rules against Sullivan’s attempt to annex property
A long-running battle over annexation in Sullivan County came to an end Monday — at least for now.
Forum offers advice on how towns can fight blight
Indiana communities with abandoned and decaying homes can soon apply for help through the federal government’s Hardest Hit Fund.
Board OKs study of mountain bike trail
A feasibility study will be undertaken to provide a conceptual design, overall costs including maintenance and staffing needs, a conceptual programming plan and a time schedule should Vigo County park officials go forward with a proposed mountain bike trail at Fowler Park.
History restored as new plaque proclaims earlier efforts at Otter Creek schools
When Fred Weaver Jr. walked through the halls of Otter Creek Middle School last summer, he noticed something was missing — a bronze plaque that paid tribute to his late father and others responsible for construction of the original facility more than 50 years ago.
FFB announces decorating contest winners
The top five First Financial Bank branches, and the organizations whose members decorated them, have been chosen in the annual lobby Christmas decorating contest.
Judge denies Sullivan County annexation bid
A special judge has rejected a move by the town of Sullivan to annex more than 1,000 acres of adjacent land, including neighborhoods and businesses near U.S. 41.
Vigo County Jail Log: Dec. 16, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, based on jail records.
Indiana State University governance groups oppose HJR-6
Indiana State University’s Faculty Senate, Staff Council and Student Government Association have voted in opposition to a proposed amendment (HJR-6) to the Indiana constitution which would define marriage as being between one man and one woman, university officials announced today.
Baby & Me: Mothers and the fight to quit smoking
When Heather Owens learned she was pregnant with her first child March 3, she quit smoking within two days.
Tobacco use & infant mortality high in Indiana
Reducing infant mortality has been named a top priority in the state of Indiana, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. Only five states and the District of Columbia have higher rates of infant mortality, per 2011 statistics.
Kids & Police
The smiles on children’s faces said it all, as they raced through the aisles of Walmart South to pick out Duck Dynasty shirts, glittery high tops, Monster High dolls and other coveted toys.
Out-of-pocket health costs may shock
The next big challenge for the nation’s health care law may be sticker shock, when consumers find they’re still paying high medical bills after buying low-cost insurance for the first time.
Navigating the range of out-of-pocket costs
Are requirements of the nation’s new health care law driving up out-of-pocket costs for people buying their own insurance?
Tips for health care buyers
Experts offer guidance for buying health insurance under new health care law.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- Food assistance available Friday to families in need