By Emily Haws,
Ontaria, Canada :- If there was a prize for the graduate who travelled the farthest to attend convocation, Michelle Johnson-Greaux would win it.
The Saint Kitts’ native traveled over 3,500 km to walk across the stage and receive her diploma, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Nipissing University. Saint Kitts is a small island in the Caribbean sea, approximately 232 km from the British Virgin Islands. Johnson-Greaux completed her degree completely online through Nipissing U’s distance education program.
“I always wanted higher education and at the time my parents could not qualify to sign the loan for me, and coming from a poor household I was not sure how I was going to get there. So I started working and every time I was able to save some money I did some of the courses,” said Johnson-Greaux. “It took awhile, but I realized it didn’t matter how long it took to get somewhere, once I got there I can continue pressing forward.”
She started working toward her degree in 2003, and has slowly progressed since then, taking courses as she could afford them. Johnson-Greaux completed her degree in December 2014, but missed convocation. Therefore, she is attending the one Thursday afternoon.
“[When I started, learning] wasn’t as technology driven, but it was easy, I could communicate with my professors in real time via email, and they always answered promptly, and I could also always telephone,” she said.
Nipissing University’s online courses run though a program called Blackboard, which allows students to complete academic work without being physically on the campus. Online students also have access to all academic services, just like a regular student.
“Our first full business degree online was the Bachelor of Commerce, but we now also offer the Bachelor of Business Administration too,” Mallory Pepin, program coordinator for the distance learning program, said. “We have quite a few students from around Canada, but in the last three years we’ve also had students from the Carribean, Ireland, and France. This year we have students from Bangladesh, Scotland, and California, USA.”
Pepin said the distance education program is growing in popularity.Often times, students choose the online degree programs because they are more flexible, allowing students to work full time while still completing a degree.
Although her family was not able to join her at the ceremony, Johnson-Greaux said they are all very proud of her. Johnson-Greaux always knew she was going to come to convocation.
“Because I wasn’t able to have the campus experience, I figured let me go to the final step,” she said. “It is really the icing on the cake.”
Johnson-Greaux worked at the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank for most of her degree, but recently obtained employment in St. Kitts as a Fraud and Compliance Officer in theCaribbean Credit Card Corporation Ltd. She has obtained her certificate degree and associates degree in banking from the Institute of Canadian Bankers, as well as her Bachelor of Commerce from Nipissing U. She is now working on her Chartered Professional Accountant designation from the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario. She graduates Thursday afternoon.