Online Certificate Graduate Completes Coursework While Stationed in Afghanistan

Completing an online degree program is challenging under any circumstances, but for Jeff Greer, finishing his online certificate in renewable energy from the University of Nevada, Reno came with a few extra hurdles.

Greer, who will complete the program in May 2015, logged on for coursework while deployed in Afghanistan with the Nevada National Guard. When a six-month deployment turned into a year, Greer, who is a Captain in the Nevada National Guard decided to stay on track to finish the program. Here, he shares a little bit about what attracted him to the graduate certificate in renewable energy and what his experience with the online certificate program was.

Can you share a little about your educational and professional background, including what drew you to the renewable energy certificate and how you hope it will enhance your career?

I received a B.A. in physical education, and an MPA, both from UNLV. What interested me in the University of Nevada, Reno renewable energy program was the exciting growth occurring in this field. When I learned through the University's website that there was an online program, my interest was piqued. Though I am taking this course chiefly to broaden my horizons in the alternative energy field, I trust this area of learning will diversify my candidacy for any future endeavors.

What courses have you taken as part of the program? Any highlights in terms of topics or instructors that have been particularly memorable or useful for you?

The first class that I took was ENGR 600-Fundamentals of Alternative Energy. I don't have a background in energy or engineering, yet the instructors in this and all the subsequent classes were able to articulate and highlight a wide range of critical information. I was impressed at the instructor's abilities to break down what was seemingly complex and new information in a way that made the curriculum very interesting. Every class made me more interested in diving deeper into the content and follow up classes.

I was very pleased that EVERY instructor seems to love teaching their respective classes and the fields in which they practice. The classes were sized in a manner which allowed classmates the ability to get to know each other well through the discussion boards.

The instructors clearly take a lot of pride is creating their online lectures. They were clear, concise, and included videos. This type of format helped me understand the lessons even though much of the content was completely new and outside my past areas of studies -- a lot of fun too.

Tell me a little bit about how you structure the work and what the online experience has been like while overseas.

When I finish this program in May, I will have finished all but about 2 weeks of the program in Afghanistan. Though this has been challenging at times due to an extremely busy schedule and the occasional rocket attack, the instructors and administrators went out of their way to ensure that I was taken care of. It felt great to have a staff that put so much care into ensuring that a student is more than just a name.

The online curriculum was very easy to follow, and even with extremely low Internet bandwidth at times, I was able to complete the coursework. The coursework itself is laid out in a way that allows for flexibility in scheduling, but yet is still interactive amongst other students and instructors.

What are your plans once you're back home?

Upon my return home, I plan on spending vacation time with my wife and baby. I will continue pursuing my military profession.