Australian woman travels to JSU to accept diploma
by Patrick McCreless
Dec 13, 2013 | 3777 views |  0 comments | 98 98 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jacqui Edmiston talks with other graduates at Jacksonville State University on Friday. Photo by Joey D'Anna.
Jacqui Edmiston talks with other graduates at Jacksonville State University on Friday. Photo by Joey D'Anna.
Distance learning was not just a choice for Jacqui Edmiston, it was a necessity.

As an event services and crisis management planner for the Olympic Games, travel and relocation is a fact of life for the 39-year-old native of Sydney, Australia. She has little time to further her education in a traditional classroom setting. So when Edmiston decided to earn a master's degree in emergency management to shore up her credentials, Jacksonville State University's online program was the perfect fit.

Two-and-a-half years later, Edmiston traveled 6,130 miles via Russia to attend JSU's graduation ceremony Friday and accept her diploma.

"When I first decided I wanted to do the course I researched a few countries ... but the difference with this one was everything was online," Edmiston said of the JSU program. "The faculty were amazing and I enjoyed the support of the teaching team."

Though there was no need for Edmiston to travel to Jacksonville to acquire her degree, she decided to do it anyway.

"I was curious, honestly ... I had never been to an American university graduation," Edmiston said.

Before attending the graduation, Edmiston had the chance to properly tour the campus and was surprised by what she saw.

"I liked it ... the buildings are old and quite lovely," Edmiston said. "And most Australian universities are quite small, but the land this campus covers is quite sizeable and I'm told it's one of the smaller ones here."

Edmiston said her degree will help her better market herself and her business, Jacman Ltd. Edmiston started the business in 2012 and is helping with emergency and crisis planning for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia. Previously, she worked for the international Olympics organizing committee as a crisis planner for several of the games, including the Olympics in Australia and London.

"I've been very fortunate," Edmiston said. "It's been a good way to see the world."

Edmiston was one of 27 graduate and undergraduate students to receive their diplomas from the JSU emergency management department Friday. Jeffrey Ryan, JSU emergency management department head, said the department's online program has had students from every continent.

"Our students are non-traditional, older and working full-time mostly," Ryan said. "These are people who are very busy and are looking to educate themselves and make themselves more marketable."

Ryan said graduates from his department serve in a variety of occupations, from police and fire departments to health care. But due to the online nature of the courses, faculty and students rarely see each other until graduation, he said.

"I just want to tell Jacqui how very proud we are of her and that she would come 6,130 miles to be with us," Ryan said.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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