Our Ecampus students come from every corner of the country. This month we are excited to hear from Floridian Suzy Roebling, a field ecologist and biological scientist who specializes in wading birds. In her narrative below, she describes her life and work in Everglades National Park.

Suzy Roebling

I am a second generation native south Floridian, growing up in the Florida Keys.  My dad was a “‘gladesman,” and an adventurer.  We were always in a boat – either in the Everglades, fishing off shore, or free diving on the coral reef.  You could say that the way we grew up ultimately influenced my career path.

That path was not a straight one.  It was not until years later – after earning an alternative BS degree and working as an administrative assistant in various offices, as a manager of a marine construction business,  and even running a bed and breakfast, that I decided to follow my passion to work close to wildlife in wild places within our spectacular ecosystems.  That time arrived after the volunteering to help with marine mammal, wild bird, and sea turtle rescues, rehabs and releases here in the Keys.  I felt compelled to return to school and become educated in the biological sciences.

It was because of General Chemistry that I “discovered” Oregon State University!  The local community college offered biology courses, but no chemistry.  Another student told me I could take it online there.  Upon investigation, I realized that I could acquire a BS degree online in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, with the three chemistry courses integral to this degree.  I enrolled in this excellent degree program, and am slowly making my way through it – with only eight more courses to go.

Adult Spoonbills
Adult Spoonbills

Volunteer and intern experiences enriched my knowledge and resume, and I am fortunate to be working as a wildlife biologist while finishing up studies for this degree.  I am employed as a field ecologist with Audubon – Everglades Science Center, and as a biological scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.  During this past nesting season (December – May), most days found me out piloting a boat in Florida Bay in Everglades National Park to survey and monitor wading birds – especially roseate spoonbills and reddish egrets – whose populations have been in decline for decades.

To live and work in such beauty and tranquility is an honor.  Every trip is an adventure – many days there are young sharks, and sometimes bow riding dolphins, basking sea turtles, and the occasional crocodile out amongst the islands.

In the fall, I look forward to the third Chemistry course.  I have happily discovered this sequence to be both a challenging and fascinating study, and definitively applicable to the natural world that is my workplace.

Big thanks to Suzy for sharing her story!!

Alena Vasquez.jpgToday we are pleased to introduce Alena Vasquez, a true Oregonian at heart who manages to balance her love for animals, science, and writing.

Please share your background so we can get to know you better. What career are you in (or working towards) and what inspired you to choose this path?

I am an Ecampus student living in Eugene, Oregon. I was born and raised in various parts of California but always felt like I belonged in Oregon. I recently switched majors from social science (archaeology) to science and I am studying biology with the pre-vet option. Three years ago I started volunteering at the local humane society as a dog walker. I started because I was bored and needed an activity to occupy my time. It quickly became much more than that for me. I started walking dogs like it was a full time job. I was at the shelter almost every day, for at least 4 hours at a time. I joined the behavior modification program at the local pound to learn how to positively modify behaviors and train the behaviorally-challenged dogs I was always drawn to. While exploring career options for archaeology, I realized nothing would make me as happy as I was when I was helping animals. I took a year off to dive fully into the rescue community and started volunteering with a local trap-neuter-return organization where I learned invaluable skills about cat behavior and the importance of spay and neuter. I knew that whatever I did with my life, it would need to be focused around the neglected animals in my community. I am studying veterinary medicine so I can take my DVM and become either a veterinarian in a high volume spay and neuter clinic or a shelter veterinarian.

How does our online general chemistry sequence relate to your career goals?

I am taking the entire 200-level general chemistry sequence online and will probably take organic chemistry online as well. This is my first year of being a science major and I have already completed the 200-level physics and biology sequence alongside the general chemistry. I have found chemistry to be one of the most important classes for understanding the rest of my curriculum and having this background has enabled me to be successful in the rest of my classes. For example, we just covered the evolution of the swim bladder in biology and having the background in acid base chemistry from 232 and 233 made it very easy to understand how an increase in lactic acid in the blood supply around the swim bladder causes hemoglobin to give off oxygen against concentration gradients. Chemistry was essential to understanding the attractions that hold DNA together and how trees move water up their xylem. I’m really looking forward to how chemistry will impact my studies in upper division classes.

The support I have found while taking general chemistry has also impacted me. Margie Haak was available day and night for questions and extremely supportive. Her course was by far one of the most challenging I’ve taken but it was incredibly rewarding to get an A and be successful in it. Margie is a huge inspiration to me and she has been so supportive of me, my success, and my goals. She is a teacher who will go above and beyond for her students and I feel really lucky that I was able to be a part of her classroom.

What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

My poetry has been published in 3 anthologies and I’ve been writing a book for maybe 5 years now.


Chris Trice
Naval Officer Chris Trice is this months Focus On Ecampus participant.

Today we focus on Naval Officer Chris Trice, who has worked his way through our online organic chemistry and will be applying to med schools this summer. Thank you, Chris, for sharing your Ecampus experience with us!

Help us get to know you better. Where are you from? What career are you in (or working towards) and what inspired you to choose this path?

I am originally from Niceville, Florida in the northwest panhandle of the state. I completed my undergraduate education at the University of Notre Dame and majored in Computer Science. I also did Navy ROTC while in college, was commissioned a Naval Officer upon graduation, and have been in the Navy ever since. The Navy has taken me all over the country (and world) but I currently reside in sunny San Diego, California. I am currently a Supply Officer for the Navy but I’m hoping to get into medical school and eventually continue my service as a Navy physician. I was inspired to join the service by my father, who was a career Air Force Officer. Getting to serve my country in the Navy has been an honor and a privilege for me and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.

How does our online organic sequence relate to your career goals?

Since I was not on a pre-med track during undergrad, I lacked a lot of the prerequisite courses that many medical schools require. Working full time, it has sometimes been difficult to find classes that work with my schedule. When I found out about the OSU organic chemistry sequence, it was the perfect way to take this course while still being able to work full time. It was also great that the course itself was fantastic! Dr. Myles is an OUTSTANDING instructor and helped make learning a difficult subject possible. This sequence also helped greatly in my MCAT preparation as well.

How did you find out about our chemistry program? Any advice for us that would have made that process easier for you?

I found out about the OSU chemistry program through a friend and fellow Naval Officer who had taken OCHEM through OSU. He spoke highly of the course and has since matriculated into medical school himself. I found the process of registering for the course fairly straightforward so I don’t think there’s too much that needs to be done. I would suggest making sure current CRNs are up to date on the main website and also providing a clearer explanation of how the summer on-campus lab portion (the hybrid online/in-person section) works and where to stay, etc.

What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

I am passionate about music and filmmaking and like to record songs and make short films in my spare time.

What is next for you?

Hopefully medical school! I will be applying this summer and can hopefully get in somewhere. I’m excited for the new challenges and opportunities ahead!

ECampus Student: Sara Askounes
Sara Askounes

Today we highlight distance student Sara Askounes, an Ohioan who has followed her curiosity into the realms of nutrition, dentistry and music. Below she shares her experience with our online organic chemistry sequence:

Please share your background so we can get to know you better—what career are you in, or working towards? What inspired you to choose this path?

I’m currently working at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine.  I rather fell into my current position, as this is where I completed my undergraduate education in Nutrition.  I also attended a dental hygiene program and became licensed to practice six years ago.  My family enjoys teasing me about how I’ve become a career student, but I find that to be my biggest motivation; I’m extremely curious.  My lifelong interest in learning always keeps me looking for my next challenge, whether it’s a degree, a class or just learning the chords to a new song.

Academically, I’m working towards furthering my career in the dental field. Once I complete my last few prerequisite courses I plan to apply to dental school.  My objective is to participate in providing care to countries that currently have little to no access.

How did you find out about our chemistry program?   What do you like most, or least, about our online classes?

Organic chemistry is very difficult to find offered in an online setting.  I found Oregon State University by chance, and was rather nervous when I enrolled last fall for the first in the sequence.  Once the class started and I saw the format I couldn’t have been happier.  I’ve taken organic chemistry in a class-based setting twice with very little success.  I’ve had online and in person tutors, and even sat for hours with professors trying to determine what I could do to improve my test performance.  Dr. Myles takes all the confusion out of determining what to study and how.  He explains exactly what is happening in the mechanisms and shares supplemental information as necessary, and avoids adding extra material that just causes confusion.  I’ve had professors that have made the course much more difficult than it needs to be, and Dr. Myles shares his brilliance with his students in a simple and understandable fashion.  I was thrilled that the lectures were recorded and posted the same day and that online discussion boards allowed all students to have a real time community during the semester as opposed to being closed off like most online courses.  I was able to participate just as though I were on campus and in person like the rest of the class.

Any advice for us that would have made that process easier for you?

My only suggestion to make the course better would be to include better/more complete lecture captures.  While they aren’t terribly frequent, there are times during lecture that Dr. Myles would point (I assume) to a specific part of the screen for clarification during a mechanism, which cannot be seen by just having the slides up and hearing the audio.

Do you have any advice for other online students?

Participate!  Oregon State University gives online students the ability to participate in class, which will help you understand the material so much better.  Even if you aren’t posting questions on the discussion board, read them daily.  I’ve had so many questions answered that I didn’t even know I had by reading other students questions.

Tell us something silly about yourself. 

I bought a drum set with my “life savings” back around 1998-1999 so that my two friends and I could start a band. We had a few original songs written, but mostly focused on rewriting parts of Hanson’s Middle of Nowhere album.  The band broke up soon after we started, so the guys never had the pleasure of hearing “Here’s the Love,” but that’s probably for the best!

ErinBrown.jpgHappy Spring! Today we highlight Erin Brown, distance student and chemistry major with a keen interest in the pharmaceutical industry.

Tell us about yourself. What degree are you working towards at Kettering? What are your career goals?

Hi, my name is Erin Brown.  I’m from Livonia, Michigan and I am currently a Chemistry major at Kettering University in Flint, MI.  At Kettering, the students are required to attend classes for 3 months and then rotate to a co-op job for 3 months, rotating back and forth until graduation.  My first co-op position was with a pharmaceutical company called Perrigo, which is one of the largest over-the-counter medication manufacturers in the U.S.  I worked there for 3 rotations as an analyst in the Cleaning Method Development & Validation group.  The work fascinated me, and my experiences at Perrigo completely shaped my future.  After graduating Kettering with a B.S. in Chemistry, I plan to either attend pharmacy school or pursue a PhD in Analytical Chemistry.  The best part about obtaining a chemistry degree is that there are so many career possibilities!  With either of those graduate degrees, I could work in the pharmaceutical industry.

How did you find out about our chemistry program?

I discovered the online program at OSU after browsing through the Kettering website.  CH-332 at OSU was the only approved online organic chemistry II course that Kettering approved, and I’m so glad that was the case!

What did you like most, or least, about CH 332 online?

I had such a rewarding experience in Dr. Myles’s course.  The class is extremely organized and clear.  The online lectures and podcasts clarified concepts from the textbook and helped me stay on track with the material.  Dr. Myles is extremely knowledgeable, and he does an excellent job of making difficult material simple to understand.  His need-to-know sheets and review lectures made preparing for the midterm and final exams so much more efficient.  For students interested in possibly taking an online chemistry class through OSU, I strongly encourage you to do so!

What do you like to do in your spare time? Any tricks to relieve school stress? J

In my spare time, I love to paint, make crafts, do yoga, or go swimming.  All of these things are therapeutic for me and relieve stress.  Another way I keep stress levels down is by keeping track of things in a planner.  Whether it’s a traditional class or an online class, time management is of the utmost importance.  While taking CH-332, I made a calendar and jotted down when I would like to have things finished and when things were officially due.  Then whenever I checked the calendar, I knew what to accomplish that week.  This kept me on track and prevented me from getting too overwhelmed.

Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us today, Erin! Best of luck in your future plans!

Sarah Devan photo.jpgHow can we preserve the beauty of art? One answer is chemistry.

Today we interview Ecampus student Sarah Devan, an art and architecture conservator living in the Los Angeles area. She is currently working her way through our CH 121/122/123 general chemistry series.

Tell me more about your career in art and architecture conservation – what made you choose this path?

The traditional route to become an art conservator is generally to get an arts or art history degree, take some additional science courses, and then enter a 2-4 year art conservation master’s program (the length varies by school and internships). I came into this field through a slightly more circuitous route, but I’m finding that I’m all the better for it. I began by first going to architecture school. I quickly fell in love with historic architecture rather than new design, and went to work for a small architecture firm specializing in historic preservation. Hoping to expand on that career and grow into larger markets, I went to graduate school for historic preservation and continued to work with architecture firms doing larger and larger profile restorations. I became knowledgeable in repairing and restoring any number of materials including adobe, brick, stone, terra cotta, bronze and steel. Throughout that experience, I took the architect’s role, planning and directing the conservation efforts, but not performing the actual work. That was left up to the contractors. I wanted to know that side as well, so I took yet another career shift and began several internships in hands-on conservation work, with two art conservators and a books and paper conservator. Through these positions, I was introduced to an even larger variety of materials, both organic and inorganic, historic and contemporary. I am now working full time for a firm that allows me to draw on both sides of my experience, as an architect and as a conservator. And my non-traditional route to get here has been a huge benefit, becoming more of a generalist with some experience in all materials rather than specializing in one area. I’m now seeking to expand on that knowledge by going back to school yet again for the art conservation degree, and one day soon start my own firm.

How does our online general chemistry sequence relate to your goals?

I’m taking the online general chemistry sequence (and later organic chemistry), in part to fulfill the prerequisites for an art conservation master’s program, and in part to better understand the materials I work with on a daily basis. Even if I choose not to apply in the future, these courses have already helped me immeasurably. Chemistry is incredibly important in art and architecture conservation. The conservator has to have an understanding of the different materials, the way they behave (both by themselves and in relation to others), and how they deteriorate over time. We have to find ways to slow the inevitable decay—whether it’s from chemical changes, environmental impacts, or the human element—in order to preserve it for future generations. We regularly use scientific methods of observation, laboratory analysis, and experimental testing in the lab and in the field in order to develop the conservation treatments. It’s important to find treatments that can be reversible, or that have minimal impact to the artwork and can be re-treated in the future. Also important is to respect the artist’s original intent, which could even work against the goals of conservation (for example, if the artist wants the piece to decay over time). It’s fascinating stuff!

Some examples of our work, just to give you an idea, might include: deciding which type of solvent to use in order to clean and remove old varnish from a painting; or understanding how salts can migrate and recrystallize in masonry causing damage, and how best to remove them; or understanding the natural processes of bronze and copper in forming a surface patina, and whether they are protective, minimally corrosive, or potentially very damaging (causing pitting and surface loss).

What do you like most, or least, about our online classes? Do you have any advice for other online students?

I chose to take classes online largely due to my full-time work schedule. It was important for me to be able to study when I had time and at my own pace rather than taking a structured class two or three nights a week. The online format is really great for this. The OSU classes can be quite demanding in terms of the level of effort involved in order to keep up with the material. They are also quite comprehensive, and I’ve been impressed so far with how they are conducted. The professor and teaching assistants are approachable and quick to answer any questions I have. And the additional online resources, such as videos, have been very helpful for supplementing the material. The labs are pretty strange when you’re used to being in an actual lab environment, but they get the concepts across. They’re probably my least favorite part of the class. As for advice, I’m probably not saying anything new here. Time management and self-discipline are really key.

Is it difficult to find balance between work and online classes? What helps you achieve that balance (and perhaps relieve school stress)?

My work has been incredibly busy lately, so I’m finding it difficult to strike that balance between work and school right now. Fortunately my projects are so varied in scope, and I get to spend equal time between the field and the office, that it keeps me engaged and always learning something new. I could never be happy in a job where every day is the same routine. Right now I’m also taking a painting class (another prerequisite for the program), and it’s been a nice stress relief to do something creative and get out of my head for a few hours.


Thank you, Sarah, for taking the time to share your story!

The students have spoken – our new semester sequence bridge courses are a success! As of the current Winter 2016 term, we have begun offering CH 124 and CH 125: half-term courses that supplement our regular term in order for a distance student to meet a full semester at his or her home university. Here is the feedback we’ve received so far from students in these courses:


Christine Stockunas…. “I was a dually enrolled student last year when I took CH121 through OSU Ecampus.  Seeing how successful I was, thanks in part to the instruction and support I experienced with OSU chemistry department, I decided to pursue a science-based degree.  Due to some course inequivalencies from another school, as well as beginning my chemistry studies with CH 121, I was unable to transfer directly into the 200-level chemistry sequence this year.   If it were not for CH 124 being offered I would have to take the entire first term of chemistry over again! Offering CH 124 is saving me time, stress, and money.”


Andrew Wimer… “I had 1 semester of chemistry at Willamette University about 12 years ago and am looking to make a career change. The program I’m applying to requires a full year of chemistry. I was thrilled to find [CH 125] because the University to which I am applying was willing to accept this bridge course and that has allowed me to have the option of not taking 2 terms of chemistry. Having it online is an additional benefit, as I work M-F 7-5 and am unable to attend almost every other alternative to this course. Overall, I don’t think there could’ve been a better fit for my situation than what is offered here in this course.”


Jaime Geib…. “[CH 124] was very convenient to meet my needs of fulfilling credit requirements for another University. However…the four week period is a stressful timeline to complete all of the work required by a 3-credit course. I would not recommend it to people working full time. This is what I am doing right now and it is not easily manageable. However, this course probably meets the needs of an undergraduate student much differently, especially if that student is on break.”


Today we highlight Ecampus student Helen Giles, a Cornell graduate and avid hockey fan who works as a Research Analyst in New York. With plans for med school in her future, she is currently working her way through our 200-level General Chemistry series for science majors.

Many thanks to Helen for the wonderful narrative below that details her experience:

Helen Giles photo.jpgIn March 2013, I was a senior at Cornell University not knowing what my future was going to hold. I was graduating with a degree in biological and medical anthropology with experiences ranging from three years of work at the top hotel school in the country, to a summer archeological dig in Spain, to bartending at a popular Collegetown bar. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after graduation; all I knew was that I wanted to be in New York City and that I had a long-standing passion for medicine.

One Thursday afternoon, I went in to work to bartend a pregame for a Cornell hockey game. No one showed up and I drew the short straw to hold down the fort until the night shift arrived. What I thought of as an unlucky draw at the time set the ball in motion for my post-graduate future. About thirty minutes into my vigil, two alumni walked in; after drinks had been poured and proper introductions made, we got into a discussion about careers and opportunities. Over the course of the evening we exchanged stories from our times at Cornell, what we were currently doing, and goals for the future – by the time I left my shift that night, I had an interview lined up in NYC at the firm owned by one of the alum. A month later, I was offered a job at Northwestern Mutual in midtown Manhattan.

I worked at Northwestern Mutual for two years, working in different roles and establishing relationships with many in the firm, from college interns to retired agents. I learned so much and loved the people, but my passion for medicine was left unfulfilled.

Then one day, I had a bit of a wake-up call—in the very real sense of my apartment building going up in flames. Everyone made it out safely and the firefighters did an incredible job containing the fire, but the building was destroyed. Mine was one of the only apartments in the whole building, and the only one on the floor below the fire, that didn’t lose everything (always remember fire safety – shut doors and windows if you have time! 🙂 ). After this experience, I realized that I was the only one who could make a change in my life. On the night of the fire, my best friend’s boss had emailed me an offer for an interview. Although I was a little delayed in my response, the company was very understanding of my “predicament” and the next month, I took a job in the healthcare division of a marketing company, working solely on oncology market research for pharmaceutical companies.

In my new position, I watched my passion for medicine reawaken fully – not only did I love the oncology trainings, but I sought out more and more knowledge on whatever project I was working on. I realized something I never expected to say – I missed school. Soon after, I began looking for a program that would allow me to take chemistry classes, but in a way that I could continue my full-time job and have the flexibility of managing my own time. That’s when I came across OSU’s Ecampus chemistry program.

I had always been disappointed in myself for my lack of dedication to chemistry in college – I had taken a full year of chemistry with lab at Cornell, but didn’t do as well as I should have. (It was freshman year; I was adapting to campus life and, at the time, thought there were more exciting things than studying.)  Chemistry was my favorite class in high school; in fact, I applied to Cornell as a chemistry, pre-med major. Medical school is my long-term goal and plan and that goal never died even when I dropped my chemistry major to pursue anthropology. I want to work in sports medicine at a university or other academic institution, helping athletes train safely and get back into the sport they love after an injury. As a gymnast for 17 years, my sports medicine doctor made a huge impression on me and I would like to be able to have that impression on other young athletes. In the short term, I have classes I need to take in order to take the MCAT and be eligible to apply to medical schools. Before jumping into the classes I haven’t taken yet, I thought the best course of action was to re-take chemistry and establish a strong foundation before attempting the other requirements.

I started with CH 231 in Fall ’15. I had never taken an online, or even a self-paced, course before and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had a busy beginning of the Fall with work, but CH 231 afforded me the flexibility to study when I could and to take days off when I couldn’t. I fell back into study patterns from high school at the time when I was a competitive gymnast and a top student. I read each chapter first, then went through the chapter objectives and typed up the responses. Finally, I would go through the chapter videos before doing the homework and quizzes. This class seemed to focus on the actual concepts in chemistry, rather than mostly theory. Now, I understood the “why” behind the problems, and the relevance of the information in real-world applications. The chapter objectives and study problems outlined exactly what I was expected to know from each chapter and were a major resource in studying for the midterm and final. I am now pursuing CH 232. With an even busier work schedule this Spring, I again find it useful to have the flexibility within this program.

Taking classes and managing a full-time job occupies a lot of my weekly schedule. To keep myself happy and healthy, I am an avid Crossfitter and can often be found with a good book in hand. Living in NYC affords me the incredible ability to always have something to do, whether it’s watching NY Rangers hockey games in a sports bar, catching up with friends in Central Park, exploring the wonderful menus of countless restaurants in every nook and cranny; I can often be found trying new things. I look forward to continuing chemistry through OSU’s Ecampus program and balancing my work and outside life in the process.




Today we highlight Hector Ariceaga, a pre-med student hoping to specialize in Psychiatry. Below he shares his experience with online organic chemistry through OSU Ecampus:

Who is Hector Ariceaga?

I am a post-baccalaureate student in the pre-med program. I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and plan to attend medical school where I will specialize in Psychiatry. I am also currently employed full time at a local internal medicine clinic where I am a member of the behavioral health team. I work closely with Clinical Psychologists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers, along with M.D.s and D.O.s, in providing mental health services in a clinical setting. I decided to pursue a specific career in mental health and medicine after delving deep into my challenging and rewarding course work at OSU-Cascades. I had originally planned on a career in law. The goals for both of my hypothetical career paths were the same, to assist those in need. I saw many people in many unfortunate situations while growing up, and I knew I wanted to pursue a career that would be fulfilling to me and helpful to others. Law, and later medicine, seemed the best avenue considering my personal skills.

In my spare time I like to relax with my friends and family. I enjoy eating out, working with computers, studying, reading, and working in the performing arts. I have a very strong support network via my friends and family and attribute most if not all of my success to their constant reassurance.


How did you find our online courses, and how might we make that process easier in the future?

Because I am employed full time, meeting my course requirements within my restricted schedule is difficult. When I was signing up for organic chemistry, I noticed there was an online version available and pounced on the opportunity. I had taken organic chemistry before, so I felt comfortable taking the class online. I absolutely loved that the class was available in the format that it was. One thing that would have made the process easier for signing up for the class would be a synopsis of the course format. Not necessarily a syllabus, but how many proctored tests would be required (1-3?). This is very valuable information for people who are employed and will need to be requesting time off.


What were your favorite and least favorite elements of CH 331 online?

I loved the filmed lectures. They were posted promptly and I felt as though I could participate in the class from the comfort of my living room. In addition, the extra study material (guides, tips, videos, links, documents) was priceless. When I completed my required reading and homework, I was able to continue studying and further my understanding of the material. The discussion boards were excellent as well. I was able to ask several clarifying questions and receive answers right away. I don’t have anything negative to say about this online course. I have taken several online courses before and this was by far one of the most organized, well structured, and supportive.*


What is your best advice for other online students?

To take an online class, especially with difficult material like organic chemistry, you must have self-discipline. You can’t expect to be successful by watching the lecture videos alone. Furthermore, you can’t wait until the last minute and binge watch them all the night before. If anything, an online course requires greater diligence and more work on your part to stay on task, focused, and asking questions, because you are the only one keeping yourself accountable.* It helps to create a balance of paperwork and computer work as well. Printing some study guides, handwriting note cards, and taking notes during lecture or while reading are great ways to solidify the material. Unfortunately, computer-based learning can make us complacent when it comes to studying. Watching a lecture video or doing online homework can fool us into thinking we fully understand the material. It is important to remember that a true test of understanding will come from the ability to recall the information, and the relationships between the information, without prompting or assistance. As such, it is great to set weekly goals based on course objectives. For example, if week 1 focuses on a particular mechanism: challenge yourself to be able to draw from scratch the mechanism; name the number of steps, draw the intermediates, and describe the substrate and products; then ask yourself some questions, such as: if I change X, what will happen to Y, and why?

Finally, I would like to remind my fellow students that whether it is an on-campus or online class, give it everything you have. Be sure to give yourself enough time and resources to succeed. When you perform well you will be glad you did. Remember, the only thing that stings worse than a bad grade is knowing that you could have done better.

Thank you Hector for sharing your story with us!


*My emphasis

In this week’s Focus on Ecampus, we bring you Mr. Brendan Freeman: actor, musician, and aspiring physician from New England.

What career are you working towards? What inspired you to choose this path?

Brendan Freeman photo.jpgI am 22 years old and currently live in central Massachusetts. I have recently completed my undergraduate education in May of this year and will be matriculating to medical school in the fall! Entering college, I was not sure which career path I wanted to pursue. I remember I had taken a Human Anatomy and Physiology class in high school where I discovered I had a clear interest for science as it related to humans. It is amazing to me that all these structures and mechanisms in our body that we take for granted–like flexing a muscle–evolved over thousands of years to make us who we are today. This passion led me to pursue a degree in biology in college. Additionally, I had done a lot of acting throughout high school, and so I supplemented my biology major with a minor in theatre. Through this, I had the opportunity to learn about humans in a really unique way–from both a scientific and an artistic perspective. When I began discerning potential careers that combined these interests, medicine was one of the first to really jump out at me. Over the course of my college career and through various clinical exposures, my love for medicine grew and eventually inspired me to become a physician.

How did you find out about our online Organic sequence? Any advice for us that would have made that process easier for you?

One of the courses I struggled with when pursuing my undergraduate degree was Organic Chemistry. As I was in the process of applying to medical school, I began looking for courses that I could take that would strengthen my medical school application and further prepare me for its rigors. Since I am currently working full-time as a medical scribe, I knew that taking a course online would provide me the most flexibility. A google search revealed several viable options, but I wanted to make sure that I was going to be instructed by the best professor I could find. The reviews I read regarding Dr. Myles’ Organic Chemistry class were stellar and immediately swayed me to take the online Organic sequence from Oregon State University.

I don’t really have any advice! The process was straightforward and I was able to get guidance from actual faculty working on campus when I had any questions.

What did you like most, or least, about your online experience in CH 331?

Hands-down, the best part about this course was the instructor Dr. Myles. Not only does he make some difficulty class material understandable, but he is also very engaging, humorous, and clear with his expectations of students. I never found myself wondering what I was supposed to know or how topics would be presented on exams–these were all clearly laid out to the students. He provided much needed guidance through a large amount of challenging material while having some fun along the way.

Another great aspect about the online experience was the recorded lectures. These allow students the ability to watch lectures on x2 speed if they really understand a topic, pause to work through related problems, and even rewind to review concepts that were difficult to understand. The lectures were also a great study tool to have on hand because they allowed you to review the material as it pertained to the class as many times as you like. At the same time, this technology has is limitations as well. I never got to see what Dr. Myles actually looked like. This also meant that if ever he was physically demonstrating something to the class, we had to rely on his verbal description, which may be difficult if you are a visual learner like me. This also meant that if Dr. Myles was physically directing the attention of the class to a specific part of the PowerPoint or of a molecule, we could not see this either. Hearing questions from the class in the recordings was also a challenge because the students are not mic’d.

Do you have any advice for other online students?

  1. Get involved with the Canvas discussions as much as possible. The more you feel like you a part of this class, the more likely you are to keep up with the material. Set realistic goals for yourself to attain weekly so that you keep up with the material. The content covered in organic chemistry is not that difficult, it just builds on itself and you are required to learn an immense amount of material. This is why it is so crucial to keep up with the material.
  2. If you find lectures are moving too slow for your taste, definitely consider increasing the speed at which the video plays to x1.5 or x2 speed.
  3. Print out any worksheets or worked examples provided to you. The more often you get the material out of the computer and into your hands, the more you will understand the material.
  4. Always ask questions!

What do you like to do in your spare time (or perhaps to relieve school stress)?

I love to improvise on the piano. I find this to be a great stress reliever as well because you do not need to have any expectations when you sit down on the piano bench. Whatever emotions I am feeling at the time can come out in the music I create on the spot. Additionally, I love to sing, act, read, hike, and play video games.

Note: The photo is me playing “Father Jack” in a play titled Dancing at Lughnasa. No, I’m not typically bald. The director actually had me shave my head to age me and make it look like I was balding!

Do you have a family you would like to tell us about?

I have 3 brothers who are working in or interested in a wide variety of fields ranging from law enforcement to English. They all love to sing and each plays a different musical instrument. My whole family is very loving and supporting and we should probably have our own reality television show for how ridiculous we are when together.