Online student Scott Foens feels connection to UNK from nearly 500 miles away

Posted: June 6, 2023 6:00:00 AM CDT

Headshot of man.

A major reason people steer away from online higher education is the fear of feeling like a number or not being connected to the campus, professors, or peers. This is not the case for Scott Foens, a current student in the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s online History M.A. program.

Foens is a U.S. Airforce veteran and currently works for the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa overseeing the land management system. His undergraduate was in history and his passion for writing history were only a few reasons Foens chose UNK’s online History M.A. program.   

“It's certainly less expensive, even as an out-of-state student to go to UNK than it was to go to Memphis,” Foens said regarding his decision where to study. “But the other piece to it really was the faculty is outstanding there at UNK, and they had the experience that I knew I could tap into that would allow me to kind of get where I wanted to be as far as being able to write and improve my storytelling.”  

Although Foens is an online student, he made the trek across the Iowa/Nebraska boarder to attend the induction ceremony for UNK’s Veteran’s National Honor Society

“That was really kind of my first exposure to physically being at campus, which is one of the things that I would say offers a little bit of a tie because now I can say, ‘Yeah, I've actually been there,’” Foens said. 

Since all online students cannot feasibly travel to campus, UNK has worked hard to livestream many student events around campus, including the homecoming parade, which Foens was able to enjoy from his home in Iowa.

UNK continues to advocate for online and graduate students through livestreaming student events and speakers, and through the creation of UNK’s new student organization, UNK Graduate Student Association

“I feel kind of this connection to UNK,” Foens said. “Obviously, because I'm a student, but it gives you the opportunity to feel like you're really a part of the student body. When you're doing distance education and you're a ways away and I don't care whether you're in Iowa or Florida, you sometimes don't have that connection. But seeing those kinds of things allows you to really connect and say, ‘Yeah, this is really my school.’”

Beyond that, Foens has traveled to Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Iowa to cheer on the Loper football team. He made a point to not wear any Loper gear, in fear that the home crowd would be upset seeing someone from the away team sitting next to them in their shared bleachers.   

“Lo and behold, I discovered there seemed to be more UNK people there than there were from Lincoln University,” Foens said with a laugh. “To this day, I remember coming over the hill, seeing this blue flag in the parking lot and thinking, ‘Who is that?’ It was a whole crowd of UNK people that were there. It was fantastic to see the see the football team play.”

By: Heidi Knake

Category: Graduate Studies, UNK Online, General

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