On a Mission for an Online Master’s in History

Posted: May 16, 2018 9:30:00 AM CDT

Cory Halvorson photoAs a child, Captain Cory Halvorson had no problem passing up comic books and cartoon strips for non-fiction and history books. In 2011, he majored in history and received his commission into the United States Air Force (USAF) through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at Northern Arizona University. But as Halvorson continued to work up the ranks of the USAF, he knew he would need to pursue a higher degree to continue to be promoted. He began his hunt for a master’s degree and found what he was looking for through the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s online Master of Arts in History program.

“I couldn’t really settle into a general university for two years, nor would my schedule really allow it, which is just the unpredictability of being an aviator,” Halvorson said. “So, I needed to find something that was online and that was credible. Something I would be proud to have on my wall in order to spend the time, money and effort to get my master’s degree.”

When Halvorson began the M.A. in History online program at UNK in 2014, he was in Minot, South Dakota. He was also deployed to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam for six months, where he was considered the new guy among three senior aviators. Only allowed to bring two bags, Halvorson dedicated one entire bag to his books for the online program in hopes to continue coursework during his deployment. His roommates were skeptical about the new guy with all the books. Upon acceptance into the squadron and receiving his call sign, Halvorson earned the nickname “Blitz” due to a number of history books he carried with him for his Nazi Germany course.

During his time in the online program, he would be deployed twice to Guam—a 16-hour time difference to Nebraska—for about a year total. Being a normal student was key for Halvorson, so he never disclosed his rank to his professors but told them when he was tasked with an operation. He recalls how accommodating his professors were in making it possible to receive a higher education and complete his missions.

“I could be tasked with last-second missions or a last-minute authority that I had to fly that day,” he said. “I wasn’t going to make certain assignment deadlines, and all of my teachers were very accommodating, even without telling them that I was military outright because I didn’t really want to abuse that privilege.”

Halvorson praised the faculty in the history department for understanding there is a life outside of the classroom and, more importantly, his obligations to the military.

“Faculty are very accommodating and extremely helpful, and they understand the demands for service men and women who, at the drop of the hat, might have to go do something and not be able to meet that deadline,” Halvorson said. “They were very willing to make their schedules work for me.”

Halvorson completed the online master’s degree in 2016. Currently, he has taken on a dual role of chief of flight scheduling and B-52H aircraft commander for the 69th Bomb Squadron, commonly referred to as the Knighthawks. He hopes to pursue a Ph.D. and eventually teach at the university level, preferably going back to his roots at the Air Force preparatory school.

Learn more about UNK’s Master of Arts in History online program.

By: Alyssa Wyant

Category: eCampus, General

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