Of the seven institutions of higher learning Gabrielle Patterson has attended, her favorite experience was studying online to earn a master’s degree from the U of A. She received a framed diploma Tuesday in front of the U of A’s RazorBug in a special presentation that’s part of the RazorBug Diploma Tour this week in south Arkansas. Patterson is a college teacher herself. The ceremony took place on the Hope campus of the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope-Texarkana, where she has taught history since December 2019. She holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and a bachelor’s degree in history from Louisiana State University Shreveport.

“I enjoy online learning as well as teaching online,” said Patterson, who teaches both face-to-face and online courses for U of A Hope-Texarkana. “This is why the online M.Ed. program suited me.”

Michael Hevel, chair of the U of A Department of Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders, presented Patterson the diploma for her Master of Education in community college leadership earned online. U of A faculty and staff members are heading the first-ever RazorBug Diploma Tour recognizing graduates of online degree programs who stayed and worked in their south Arkansas hometowns while earning their degrees. U of A Hope-Texarkana officials joined in the presentation. Patterson said faculty members at U of A made a difference for her.

“I love Dr. Hevel,” she continued. “He made me feel part of the program. He worked with me one on one. When you are working on a master’s degree, you really have to understand every concept in your classes. Having classes one at a time also really helped with that.The master’s degree focusing on community college leadership will help Patterson when she wants to move into higher education administration. “The community college program was new, and I thought it was really specific to what I want to do. It would help me here.”

For now, she’s enjoying her work as a history instructor at the community college, a path she says is a good fit for many students. She says community college was the right place for her at 17. “I wasn’t ready then to go to a big SEC school,” she said. “I would tell anyone considering an online program to do it. I encourage my students to consider an online degree. Give it a shot.” Patterson plans to continue her education and has applied for admission to the doctoral program in adult and lifelong learning, another online degree offered by the university in Fayetteville.

The RazorBug is a converted red Volkswagen beetle that sports a Razorback snout, tail and razor-edged spine. It has been used for recruitment and special events since 2005. It continues the tour through south Arkansas with stops in Magnolia and El Dorado this week.


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