The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

May 5, 2014

Non-traditional students trek far for diplomas

By Brenden West Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON -- The largest on-campus class in Ashford University history received diplomas Sunday. An even greater contingent traveled far to do the same.

Students old and young from places like Florida, Kentucky and California found themselves on the Clinton campus for the first time Saturday. They were among 1,300 taking part in commencement ceremonies, and through online courses, shared the fact that Ashford enabled them to obtain degrees despite their differing walks of life.

Dan Peterson, 53, made the trek from Glendale, Arizona with three generations of kin. With a career grounded in Homeland Security work, he still pursued higher education on the recommendation of co-workers.

“This is actually my first time on campus,” Peterson said Saturday during Ashford’s pre-commencement festivities. “It’s very nice to have a brick-and-mortar place to go to, so I’m impressed personally.”

As for his education, Peterson said he was satisfied.

“The instructors are very informative and they hold you to a standard, which they should,” he added. “For the money I paid I feel I received quality back. Coming in this late after being in the workforce for so long, it felt important to me to celebrate this achievement.”

For others, like Florida resident Thomas McDermott, the diploma hit closer to home. An Iowa native, he said he chose Ashford to support Iowa higher education and to get organizational management and project management degrees at the pace he wanted.

“It’s nice to graduate here and come back (to Iowa),” McDermott said. “The traditional student options and supporting a home-state college drew me to Ashford.”

Non-traditional graduates dwarfed the on-campus degree-getters. After joining each other, the celebrated the same cause with food, drink and entertainment on Saturday and by obtaining academic parchment Sunday.

The commencement ceremony included speeches from students, Black Hawk Down Army Ranger Sgt. Keni Thomas and Ashford University President Dr. Richard Pattenaude.