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Paralegal Student Earns Bachelor’s Degree in 9 Quarters

Published on February 6, 2014 by Tiffany Coleman

(MERIDIAN) What do you get when you combine 2,881 miles and one t-shirt? For Kelli Shiner, it equals nine…quarters that is. Along with being a more than full-time student, community volunteer and busy mother to five children, the Globe University-Online student has amazingly completed a four-year degree in just nine quarters. She recently graduated with an overall 3.9 grade point average, and she managed to accomplish the majority of her education while living in Alaska—far, far away from her Idaho family and friends. You may wonder how it is possible to achieve such stellar academic success in such a short period of time. Shiner will tell you she owes it all to one thing: family support.

Same shirt, different day. Paralegal program graduate Kelli Shiner wearing the same Broadview University t-shirt on her first day of school at the Boise campus in October 2011 (left), and on her last day as a Globe University-Online student in December 2013 (right). Photo courtesy: Kelli Shiner.

“I definitely owe my success to my family,” the paralegal program graduate said. “My kids were very supportive and understanding in helping me out. That’s the only way I could do my assignments. I had to hide from them in my bedroom just so I could do my homework.”

Shiner’s studies did not start out that way. She started as a residential student at the Broadview University-Boise campus in October 2011. At the time, she was involved in campus activities, juggling mommy duties for her kids (now ages 16, 13, 7, 6 and 3) and cranking out more than 20 credits per quarter. Three quarters in, she and her husband Dave had a decision to make when they found out military duties would send him to Korea for a year without the family. From their home in Idaho’s Treasure Valley, the family packed up and moved all the way to Anchorage where Dave would be stationed once he completed his tour of duty overseas. Thanks to the convenience of a portable education, Shiner was able to continue her studies without missing a beat.

“I just went from one to another,” she said. “I had just started a 28 credit load schedule. I didn’t want to switch schools because [Globe University] is the only one that had my program. Most others only offer associate degrees.

“At the time, I thought it would be easier not spending time in class, but I probably spent even more time on my own. I did miss out on having people to talk to, and I lived on the computer. My weeks were filled with kids; my weekends were filled with homework.”

Shiner (middle) during a class presentation she made as part of her residential days at Broadview University-Boise campus.

Her advice for other online students is to take advantage of available resources such as Blackboard, and to make valuable contacts along the way. But above all, Shiner says the key to online academic success comes down to organization.

“I kept track of everything I did; classes, discussion posts, assignments, everything,” she said. “I printed out everything every quarter because I didn’t have anyone there to remind me.”

Shiner graduated in December with a quiet celebration at home. Her kids—excited she was finally finished with her studies—decorated their house and surprised her.

“I have to say, I am not sure what I am most excited about; the fact that I graduated or the fact that after hours and hours of studying and sitting around doing nothing physical that I am still able to fit into [this] shirt,” she said in reference to a picture of herself wearing the same Broadview University t-shirt on her first of school in October 2011 and her last day of school in December 2013.

Along with a self-imposed fitness challenge, Shiner’s next big adventure is her brand new job as a litigation assistant at an Anchorage law firm.

“This is such an amazing opportunity for me to learn and grow in the legal field,” she said. “I love achieving goals! Now, to find someone to watch the kids in the morning and get them to school…”

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