Happy New Year, readers! Our first student spotlight for 2016 is on Michael Hancock, a high school teacher in Ohio who has taken several of our Ecampus Chemistry courses.

  • 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 am a high school science teacher and I’ve been teaching for eight years now.  Interestingly, I never started out to be a teacher.  My undergrad B.S. degree is in biology and after college I began a career at Battelle (a science research facility in Columbus, OH) for four years.  Later, the state of Ohio began increasing its science requirements for graduation and found itself short on science teachers.  So, they started seeking those who already had a strong science background and only needed the courses in pedagogy, which the state would pay for.  My wife was already a teacher and we had just been talking about how great it would be to raise a family if we were both teachers with the same schedules as our children.  So, when I heard the radio announcement for people with a background in science who were interested in becoming teachers, I applied.  Within a year, after an intense teaching program at Muskingum University, I passed the state exams (both to prove I knew biology as well as the pedagogy) and became a licensed teacher.  Within the next year I had a Master’s in Education and was teaching full time in Columbus City Schools.

Since my original degree was in biology, I was only licensed to teach Life Science courses in Ohio.  Recently, I got a job in the Licking Valley School District, which was much closer to home.  However, they needed a teacher with a license to teach chemistry, not biology.  Since I minored in chemistry in my undergrad I was confident that I could take one or two courses, if necessary, to get the chemistry licensure.  I was right… and wrong.  I did have enough undergrad chemistry credits to get a supplemental license to teach chemistry for two years.  However, during that time I would need to take 10 semester hours in chemistry and pass the required state chemistry test.  I searched high and low, scouring the internet for online programs that offered higher-level chemistry courses.  Most schools either did not offer any chemistry courses online above organic chemistry, or required that I seek a degree.  Finally, I found Oregon State’s Ecampus program that did offer just the right amount of chemistry courses that I had not already taken in my undergrad and I could register as a non-degree seeking student.  It was perfect!

  • What do you like most, or least, about our online classes?

I like the design of the courses the most.  I especially liked having the liberty to work and study at my convenience rather than trying to make it to a scheduled class, which would have been impossible while also working full time.  Some classes were designed better for online study than others.  I would like to mention Environmental Chemistry CH_390 taught by Marita Barth was the best online course due to the way it was organized; very clear directions, each topic was broken down and thoroughly explained with pencast tutorials as well as PowerPoint lectures and other tools, and there was little mystery as to what was expected of me as the learner.

What I liked least:  In nearly every course, during the audio recordings of the PowerPoint lectures, there were multiple references to things that were happening in the classroom that I could not see.  For example, one professor constantly referred to group activities and discussions that took place in the face-to-face class but never explained any detail nor provided any alternative exercise I could do at home.  Another professor would write and draw on the chalkboard during the lecture but never provided those images in some form online – so I was left with my imagination for what was being referred to on the board.  It would seem that could be improved with current technologies (even by snapping a photo and posting it to Canvas somewhere).  Perhaps lectures could even be video recorded and linked to on Canvas.

  • Do you have any advice for other online students?

Do not think that distance learning is somehow easier than face-to-face classes.  I found myself sometimes working and studying harder than I did in most in-person lectures because I couldn’t simply raise my hand to ask a clarifying question or talk to a peer after class.  Please don’t misunderstand, the benefits of Ecampus are too numerous to mention here and well worth the effort.  Just don’t be naive enough to think that the coursework will be less intense because you can work on it at your own convenience.  There are still challenges, the rigor can still be intense, and the expectations are still high.

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

I am the youth pastor at Christian Apostolic Church in Newark, OH and I serve the district of Ohio as the Ohio Youth Division Secretary for the United Pentecostal Church International.  I love being involved in ministry.

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

I am the husband of the best woman in the world, Ann Hancock and together we have two precious daughters, Ragon (5 years old and just started kindergarten) and Adley (5 months old and just started kissing her mom and play-fighting with her dad, as babies do!).


Kelsey Dobesh photoOur second student spotlight for December is on Kelsey Dobesh, who hails from New Mexico but is currently living in Colorado and attending CSU.

Please share your background so we can get to know you better. What is your major? What inspired you to choose this path?

I am currently a pre-veterinary medicine student at Colorado State University. I grew up at the family vet hospital in New Mexico and had the privilege of watching my parents practice medicine from a young age. My great grandpa was a vet, my grandpa was a vet, and both of my parents are vets, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to pursue the career until my freshman year of college. I started freshman year as an Agricultural Business major, and about halfway through the year I really started to envision my future (as most college freshmen do.) I realized I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I know that I want to wake up and go to work as a veterinarian for the rest of my life, and I have never been so excited about the future!

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

To be honest, I found OSU’s online chemistry program through a Google search. I was thrilled when I found out the credits would transfer to my university, and I signed up for classes the next day!

How have our online chemistry courses contributed to your career goals?

I am planning on applying to veterinary school early, and I needed to take General Chemistry II over the summer to help put me in that position. It worked out perfectly because I was able to go home, work full time, and still take classes.

What did you most enjoy about the course(s) you took with Dr. Myles?

Dr. Myles is an incredible instructor who genuinely cares about the success of his students. Prior to his class, I had never taken an online course, and I was initially worried I would not have any one-on-one contact with my professor or classmates. As the course progressed, however, I had more one-on-one contact with Dr. Myles than I had ever experienced in my lecture halls back home. He was prompt to respond to questions and offered numerous tools for success. I always knew his knowledge was a quick email away.

Although I was taking General Chemistry II (CH 232 and 233), I appreciated how Dr. Myles incorporated an introductory lesson of Organic Chemistry into the course. Consequently, my first few weeks of OChem back at Colorado State were essentially review and I felt miles ahead of most of my classmates.

Do you have any advice for other online students?

My main advice would be to put the time in. With online classes especially, you get out of them what you put into them. I found myself studying 40 hours a week for my one class​, but the result was a newfound confidence on test day. If you just sit down and put the time in, all of your hard work will not be in vain.

What is next for you? 

I am hoping to apply to vet school this coming summer. Woo hoo!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I enjoy reading, running, spending time with friends, and traveling. I’m also a bit of a news freak and like to keep current on politics and world events. Although I love exploring the world and temporarily living in Fort Collins, there is nowhere like the “Land of Enchantment,” as they call it. My ideal night would be sitting in the backyard with my family and watching a spectacular New Mexico sunset.


Many thanks to Kelsey for sharing her time and her story!

Lilly Lawrence-BriggsOur first December Focus on Ecampus interview is with Lilly Lawrence-Briggs, who is currently applying to Vet Med schools (including OSU). She discusses how helpful she found the lecture videos that some of our instructors incorporate into their online courses.

How did you find out about our online chemistry courses? What did you like best about them?

My Grandfather, Jack Briggs, is an alumnus of Oregon State University. He also used to teach Biology at the Corvallis campus. A few years ago, while I was getting my Bachelor’s degree in Business Psychology, I started having some interest in going to Veterinary school. My grandfather recommended OSU. I was living in California at the time, and needed something that was taught online. I found out about Dr. Barth’s general chemistry series and signed up. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be capable of completing any college chemistry sequences. I’m not your typical “science student,” anyway. I was homeschooled all through high school and had *extremely* limited knowledge of anything scientific. I also have a diagnosed learning disability, an eye convergence issue, that’s always put me at a slight disadvantage in the brick and mortar classroom setting. Taking classes online better suited my disability, and it also allowed me to hide behind the computer screen and not make a fool out of myself in front of the smart students!

To my shock, I was able to get through the general chemistry sequence with all “A”s. I also graduated with my Bachelor’s degree at this time and was looking for that “next step” in my life. I started considering vet school much more seriously. I applied to OSU as a post-Bacc student, got accepted, and moved to Bend to study at OSU’s Cascade campus.

The first Organic chemistry class I took (331) was actually taught by Dr. Gautschi. He was teaching it on campus but, of course, I opted to take it online. I’d heard nightmare stories from students about organic chemistry and was way too chicken to sit in the live class. Oh, how I wish I knew about Dr. Myles then! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Dr. Gautschi! However, his online course had no lecture videos. I can’t emphasize how key those lecture videos were to my success in O-Chem. Furthermore, I almost failed Dr. Gautschi’s class and was feeling terrible. By doing a lot of hard work, meeting with tutors, and making one-on-one appointments with Dr. Gautschi, I was able to get by with a “B.” That was when he recommended Dr. Myles to me. I immediately went onto the Ecampus Chemistry website, looked up Dr. Myles’s email, and asked him if his organic course would include lecture videos. I can’t tell you how ecstatic I was when he said that it would! All of Dr. Barth’s general chemistry classes included lecture videos as well. I’m being 100% honest when I say that those videos are the reason for my success in both general and organic chemistry online. I was actually able to earn an “A” in Organic this time around. Being able to hit the pause button, take notes, re-watch worked problems, and review old recorded lectures was amazing! Obviously, students can’t hit the “pause button” on their live lecturing teachers. And, if you’re like me, you’re too embarrassed to speak-up in class.

Shout out to Dr. Myles:

It’s hard to choose just one thing I liked about Dr. Myles. His lecture videos were so clear and made learning the tricky O-Chem concepts much easier—I dare say even fun! ? He was also so nice, patient, and encouraging whenever I spoke with him via e-mail.

Advice for OSU Ecampus:

The only advice I could give would be to ask that all of OSU’s online courses have recorded lectures! For instance, I’m currently taking a genetics class online through OSU Ecampus. The professor is great, but she has no lecture videos… Honestly, that class would be so much more enjoyable if it had recordings like Dr. Myles’s class did. If you can’t tell, I’m very passionate about those online lecture videos! My disability slows me down in class and I always fall behind. The videos are my saving grace; they allow me to keep up.

What’s next for you?

I just finished all of my vet school applications. I applied to eight schools (including OSU) and will hopefully be hearing from them come January. As you know, O-Chem is a required course for all vet schools.

My passion to become a vet stems from my childhood. I was fortunate to grow up on a 40-acre farm in Northern CA. I was constantly watching my mom rescue animals, breed them, and train them. My mom is my ultimate motivator!

Do you have a hobby you’d like to tell us about?

In my spare time, you can find me riding & jumping horses. Below is a picture of me jumping my horse, Sublime. Interesting side note: this mare is pregnant and will have a foal next year! I actually bred her at Bend Equine Medical Center & Small Animal Division. Dr. Wayne Schmotzer, the clinic’s owner, used to teach at OSU’s College of Vet Med. Small world, right?



This week, we’d like to focus on Andreas Lutzen, a 44-year-old Danish national living in Hong Kong with his family. Andreas works for Hempel China Ltd, a marine and protective coatings company. Andreas has completed our 100-level general chemistry sequence and is currently taking CH 331 Organic Chemistry.


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

Having had some success with online education before, I was looking for an opportunity to study chemistry while holding down a day job. Pending an extensive search, I found that only OSU could offer a well-functioning platform for online chemistry studies. To my knowledge, there is in fact not that much competition around in the area of university-level chemistry distance learning. Some institutions offer programs that I would characterize as “thin,” and others offer programs that are too demanding to be realistic if you have a job. OSU has struck the right balance in my view.

Please share your background so we can get to know you better—how did you end up where you are on this journey?

I work in the technical service department of Hempel, a major coatings supplier within the area of industrial and marine paints, and studying chemistry is the thing I need to take my understanding of things to the next level. That is, I already have certificates and experience in on-site coating inspection, factory audits and so on, but knowledge of the underlying science of the whole affair—chemistry—is still not part of my toolbox. This is something I wish to change.

To give you an idea of my work content: I will go and do coatings inspection for, say, the docking of a ship. That is, I help plan the application by making a paint specification and by ensuring the right quantities and qualities of paint are ordered. During the actual docking of the ship, I am on site agreeing with yard and ship-owners on a painting time-table, overseeing the actual application ensuring that climatic conditions are acceptable for painting, salt content of abrasive not too high, that the paint is properly mixed (stoichiometry) and so on and so forth. As you can see from this, chemistry is central to what we do in the coatings industry, and hence the things you teach at OSU are very valuable to me in getting a better and deeper understanding of my work.

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

I joined the coatings industry sort of by chance. I have never regretted ending up here, however. The drama of chemistry, different cultures (most projects are of an international nature) and commercial interest clashing, as they do in our industry, is intense. One might be stressed out and vexed from time to time, but work here is never boring! My goal is simply to become better at what I am doing, and the inspiration for that is pretty straightforward: Nothing beats being good at what you do. The joy that comes from being good at something lasts a lifetime; it cannot be taken away from you.

Do you have any advice for other online students? 

You have to want this to succeed. Only personal interest and a good fit with career plans and goals are sufficient to power the sustained effort needed to be able to pull this through. On a personal level, I experience this right now, as I am struggling with organic chemistry, which is much harder than originally anticipated. I have already made up my mind to push on, even though temporary setbacks may come to visit. If you really want something, having to redo a course or two is no more than a bump on the road. On a practical level, my advice is this: Work the problems, work the problems, and work the problems. Chemistry cannot be read and memorized; it has to be worked to be understood.

What is next for you? 

Maybe a job with the complaints-handling unit at our HQ. Having spent more than a decade in China and in the field, moving back to HQ in Europe would be a good next step. Needless to say knowledge of chemistry is going to be indispensable in that job.


Thank you Andreas for sharing your experience and insight with us! Good luck in the rest of your term and your professional endeavors!

As promised in April, Focus on Ecampus is going to revisit Brian Tanis, an OSU doctoral student in the Integrative Biology program. Brian is working on some pretty interesting things!

He continues:

After graduating, I hope to remain within academia, teaching courses and conducting research. To build upon my teaching skills, I am working on completing the Graduate Certificate in College and University Teaching. As part of the program I chose to take “Instruments and Online Interactions in the Sciences” (CH 584) through the Chemistry Ecampus program.

I am originally from New Jersey and completed my undergraduate degrees in Biology and Ecology from Susquehanna University in PA. Following graduation, I moved to Kansas where I worked on a Master’s degree at Fort Hays State University, researching the impacts of wind energy turbines on the scavenging mammal community. Currently, I am working towards a PhD in Zoology at Oregon State University, where I am focusing on exploring the dynamic interactions between apex predators and meso-predators over the past 11,000 years. This will hopefully give us a better idea of how interactions between predators change and how that impacts the ecosystem as a whole.

I have always been interested in learning more about the patterns seen in nature and passing that information on to others. As an undergraduate, I became involved with a variety of research projects, and quickly developed a love for scientific research. As an undergraduate I also got the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant, and found it was very rewarding to help people make connections between materials and clarify difficult concepts. I decided that I would like to remain within academia and continue to try to make advances in my field, and to share those advances with as many students as possible.

I decided to take “Instruments and Online Interactions in the Sciences” because more universities and students are looking for non-traditional methods for higher education. The course offered a great opportunity to learn about how to best implement science courses, which typically rely on physical laboratories, into a virtual setting without sacrificing any of the information for students. Not only did we cover techniques and tools used within a virtual classroom, but we also covered key concepts in designing courses and the rationale behind developing assignments and activities. This type of knowledge really makes me more marketable to future employers and improves my abilities in the courses I currently teach.

As far as advice for other online students, one of the most challenging aspects of any online course is staying up to date with the material and assignments without the structure of a traditional classroom. I highly recommend that online students seriously devote a set amount of time each day to going over the course materials. Also, be sure to use the instructor and your fellow students as resources. Sometimes, an online course can make students feel isolated, but it is easy to reach out over the internet and make connections or ask for clarification. Often, your instructor and classmates will be glad to discuss the material and help out with more challenging concepts.

In the near future, I will be working on collecting and analyzing data for my dissertation, which I hope to complete in the next 3 years. After that, I will be looking for post-doctoral positions to further my teaching and research abilities, before looking for full time employment at a university or museum.

Thanks to Brian for sharing his story!

OSU online Chemistry’s student Kirk Denti is currently working as an RN in an ICU, but is working toward becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). Kirk tells us that our CH 140, General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry, will help him to meet the prerequisite requirements of CRNA school. Kirk shares his story below–

Please share your background so we can get to know you better—how did you end up where you are on this journey?

Long story, but I used to be a Respiratory Therapist up until 2 1/2 years ago.  I have worked in Vancouver, Canada for about 5 years and about 12 years in Texas.  I have always appreciated the role of the CRNA, as some of what they do, professionally, blends into what we did as RTs (airway and ventilator management).  I left the bedside in 2007 and went to work for a disease management company, and it was there that a coworker had applied to RN school and got in.  This inspired me to move forward and apply for RN school myself.  My thoughts were simply that time is going to pass, so why not study while it happens and accomplish something at the same time. I started RN school in 2009 and finished in 2011 and have been working as an RN in an ICU for 2 1/2 years.

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

In my Respiratory Therapy program in Canada, we had to take an anesthesia class.  Canada has an anesthesia profession, similar to CRNA, designed for RTs to go into, and this particular class gave me a taste of it.  I really enjoyed it and really enjoyed my O.R. rotations.  At the time, I wanted to be an RT, but that class held a spot in my mind.  When I came to the States and learned about the CRNA profession and how much more involved it was than what was offered in Canada, I knew I had to pursue it.  And besides, the pay is pretty good too!

How will your OSU online classes help you to accomplish your career goals?

Organic and Biochemistry are prerequisites for some CRNA programs (one or the other, not both) and this class, Chem 140, fits nicely into my plans.  Without it, I would have to have taken one year of General Chemistry and then Organic Chemistry.  With this class, I don’t have to do that, and I can do it from home…can’t beat that. (Be sure to check with any professional program you are targeting to be sure they will accept the class you plan to take).

Do you have any advice for other online students?

Be sure that you discipline yourself to stay focused and on target with study objectives and don’t fall behind.  If you can get a study partner, that would help, so that you can push and support one another.  It’s very easy to let a day here and there slide by without studying.

What is next for you? 

My next step is to apply at a few CRNA programs around the nation and hope for the best.  I don’t know where I will end up, but I don’t really mind as long as I get accepted somewhere.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like being with my wife and kids–just hanging out with them.  I also enjoy playing my acoustic guitar, which I find relaxing. I am married and have been for 25 years; we have 6 children, aged 15 to 23.

Online student Justin Reed shares his story about how OSU Ecampus made a difference in his life:


At some point towards the end of my pursuit of my bachelor’s in electrical engineering I realized that I was not in love with what I was doing. I really liked the science and the problem solving side of it, however I just could not find the passion that I was hoping to find in a life long career. At the time, my wife and I had just decided to start a family in the near future so I did what any responsible husband/father would do and I finished my degree and I went to work as an Electrical Engineer at the Idaho National Lab.

After a couple years of working in the industry, I again was feeling unfulfilled with my work. I quickly realized that what I was missing was human interaction. From past experiences I knew that I loved working with people in all aspects of the human experience. I knew that I would never be happy working with inanimate objects. So, I started to think about which careers could allow me to use science, problem solve, AND work with people on a daily basis. What had never been obvious to me before, quickly became so, as I realized that a career in medicine would fulfill all these objectives.

By this time in my life I was 28 years old, had a third child on the way, and there was not a college or university in my town. I was painfully aware that as an older student from non-traditional background trying to get accepted to medical school I would face some obstacles; time being one of the biggest ones. I had a couple of pre-requisites that had to be completed in order to apply. At the time, in addition to my growing family, I was working 50-60 hours a week. I realized this would not be easy and the timeline would have to work out just right for me to have a chance. I laid out a plan that had me starting medical school exactly two years later. Everything would have to fall into place exactly right in order to accomplish this goal.

My work schedule forced me to take most of my classes online or at night. This was a problem for me because I was living in rural Idaho and there are not of options in that area. In fact the only university in the area was 45 minutes away and did not offer Organic Chemistry either online or at night. I started to panic! I absolutely needed to take Organic Chemistry that first semester for my plan to work. I jumped online and quickly found out that Oregon State University offered the class through their Ecampus! I applied and registered for the class. I knew my plan was going to work.

About three weeks before the start of my class I received a call from the Ecampus Coordinator, Kim Thackray. She explained to me that while I had taken one year of Chemistry (a pre-requisite for O-Chem), one of the semesters I had taken would not fulfill the requirement and I would not be allowed to start O-Chem that semester. I would have to take an additional semester of general chemistry and then I could take O-Chem. Due to the course schedules, this would set my plan back an entire year. I was devastated!

The very next day, Kim called me back. She said that she understood how important taking O-Chem that fall was and had taken it into her own hands to do some research for me. Kim found a 3-week long condensed Chemistry class that started in two days and would meet my pre-requisite requirement. She had already talked to the professor, showed them my undergrad transcript, explained my situation to them, and arranged for me to have a seat in the class if I wanted it! Amazing! My plan was back on track.

Today I have four children (yes, you read that right) and I am a first year medical student at the University of Washington School of Medicine. I absolutely love what I am doing. I feel like becoming a physician is my calling in life. It is all I dreamed it would be. As I think back through all the classes I had to take, studying for and taking the MCAT twice, all the applications and interviews and finally getting accepted to UWSOM, I realize that without the extra effort put forth by the Ecampus folks, specifically Kim, there is a very good chance that I would not be where I am today. From my experience, it is not very often that someone will go out of their way for someone that they don’t know, much less for someone that they have never met. Especially when it comes to helping an out of state student find unique ways to fulfill their dreams. OSU’s Ecampus made a difference for me.

The OSU Chemistry Department’s online students take our classes for a variety of reasons. Some are wanting to earn an online degree, get some chemistry credits to finish up a degree, or need more chemistry knowledge for their work. Others are interested in moving toward a new career, and chemistry is a foundation for the new work they plan to do. Some of these career paths can be surprising; we would like to introduce you to Deborah Kenner, who has taken CH 140, our 6-credit General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry.

How did you end up where you are on this journey?

I received my BFA in ballet performance from the University of Arizona as a full scholarship student. After graduation, I moved to Colorado where I danced with Colorado Ballet and David Taylor Dance Theatre. I spent 10 years dancing professionally until I tore my ACL.   During rehab on my knee, I went through a Pilates certification program; I thought this would be a great way to help myself get back on stage. I soon discovered I enjoyed learning about how the body functions and realized it was not in my best interest to be back on stage.   As I taught more and more ballet and Pilates, I wanted to learn more about the body. In 2010, my dream of teaching at one of the top training facilitaties in the country became a reality. Immediately, I relocated to Seattle and began my journey at Pacific Northwest Ballet. I am thankful I am able to share my love of ballet with the next generation.

When I decided to return to school my plan was to attend PT school.   I have been working on pre-reqs for about a year now and have completely changed my mind about my future goals. This change of heart happened during a nutrition class. I have watched many friends over the years–and now young ballet dancers–struggle with weight and proper nutrition. I believe there is a need for people to help children understand how to take care of their bodies.   I want to be a positive influence in these young people’s lives and show them that it is not necessary to go to drastic measures in order to achieve what society believes to be desirable.   My next step is to complete a Nutritional Therapy certification program, finish my last few pre-requisites and apply to grad school.

Do you have any advice for other online students?

Online classes require a ton of discipline.   The best advice I have is to set small goals and deadlines. Most of the assignments are due at the end of the quarter, but setting personal deadlines helped me stay on top of the work load. I would also suggest asking as many questions as you need.

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

I have a great support system. My Dad is always available to cheer me on or keep me motivated when I think I have bit off more than I can handle. Unfortunately, I lost my Mom in 2005, she was my number one fan. I know she is happy that I am finally back in school working towards my next goal. I think she might be a little surprised I have decided on Nutrition. I would have become a victim of an eating disorder if it weren’t for her guidance. I am also so thankful that I have such a wonderful boyfriend who encourages me to be a better, more patient person!