Cyber classmates now fast friends

Cherrish Beals and Cara Nicole Bruner, both 2009 Linfield College graduates, were team members during their senior capstone course, Strategic Management, this fall. But it was only before the fall commencement ceremony that they met face-to-face for the first time.

Beals of Grand Island, N.Y., and Bruner of Madrid, Spain, represent the 21st century Linfield students of the Adult Degree Program.

Their cyber paths first crossed in September when they chose to be on the same team in class. When Bruner was unable to attend the course orientation, Beals took notes for her. “All this without ever having met or spoken to me,” Bruner said. “Getting to share in the graduation experience together was really special.”

“Cherrish and Cara Nicole excelled in their academic courses at Linfield,” Kate Bemis, dean of the Linfield Division of Continuing Education, said. In exchange, Linfield provided them with all student services through online means, including academic advising, registration, financial aid and bookstore services.

Beals completed all of her Linfield classes online while working for HSBC, a banking and financial services organization. Originally based in Oregon, Beals was transferred to California, and is now in New York. She said skills critical to her online education – self discipline and motivation – will continue to serve her well as an employee.

“In today’s global society, people like Cara and I can live half way around the world from each other and yet still meet and become such great friends,” said Beals.

Bruner began her Linfield bachelor’s degree in Oregon, taking courses on the Portland campus, then moved to Spain where she continued taking classes online. She now has plans for graduate school. She said support, both from online classmates like Beals and Linfield faculty and staff, enabled her to graduate.

“It was important to have that strong sense of camaraderie with classmates like Cherrish, and to know at the end of day that there are others in your situation with the same challenges,” she said. “That picks you up a lot.”