One of the best things about online learning is that students can pursue their degrees from virtually anywhere — even another continent. Just ask Karen Duey ’95, ’18, current location: Antarctica.
As an employee of McMurdo Station on Ross Island, Karen is literally on the other side of the world. McMurdo supports scientists who venture to the icy outcropping to research in the unique climate, and Karen is part of the staff that keeps the facility up and running. The flexibility of the online learning makes it possible for her to work towards her degree no matter her schedule, time zone, or physical location. ‘Being able to work on classwork any hour of the day is great,’ she said.
Here’s the log of Karen’s Antarctica journey thus far and why she chose to pursue her degree with JWU Online:
Can you share with us exactly how you ended up in Antarctica?
I have always wanted to go to Antarctica, since at least the age of 18. I was in the Navy from 1988 to 1993, and, at that time, the Navy occupied McMurdo Station. I would always put the request on my dream sheet (the form you fill out for the places you hope to be stationed). After leaving the Navy, I attended Johnson & Wales University in Charleston and received my associate degree in 1995. But Antarctica was always in the back of my mind. In May 2013, I finally went ahead and applied. I received a phone call the very next day. Originally, I was given an alternate contract, but by September I was called and put on the primary list to go in October 2013. Currently, I am on my fourth season.
Why did you decide to pursue your bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts & Food Service Management?
Like many, I loved cooking, so I thought this would be a great career. I chose to pursue my bachelor’s in culinary arts and food service management now because although I have two associate degrees, most jobs seem to require a bachelor’s degree.
Johnson & Wales is known for their focus on experiential education. What have you learned in your coursework that you’ve been able to apply to your current career?
I just completed the Excel course recently, and although I have had Excel on my computer, I had never used it to its full capacity. Now, I’ve been able to use it for a few things required by my job. Of course, in management, accounting, and finance, knowledge is always very beneficial.
What advice would you give to someone who is either considering online learning or is in their first term at JWU Online?
Planning, focus, and an effective use of time are the keys to success. If you find that you are struggling, reach out to the instructor. They are there to help, even if you don’t see them in person.
Seek out a classmate for help, too. Most of the online classes require and encourage discussions with other students, but you don’t have to stop there. You can start chatting with a classmate, and though you may not be in the same location, you can work together if one of you is having trouble with a section of the class. Sometimes it’s very helpful to get another person’s opinion or understanding of the information that is being taught.
What do you do in your free time?
I like to spend time in the library or craft room. During the summer season when we have 24-hour daylight, we can take hikes in the area. Walking out to a location, called Hut Point, and looking out at the ice, seeing seals, and sometimes penguins, and, of course, seeing the Trans-Antarctic Mountains, can leave me speechless. Also, I like to walk by the Discovery Hut. Just knowing that some of the first explorers walked here — and very few people have been here since — is an incredible feeling.