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When Diane Gubran decided to take a break from college in 1984, she told herself it would be temporary. She had been a journalism student at California State University-Northridge, but after one semester, she began to lose focus and ended up dropping out.
“Anything that is challenging takes discipline. When I was younger, I was more interested in having fun and living life [than doing schoolwork],” she said.
After a string of odd jobs, Diane land a position in the mortgage industry with the help of a friend, and as time went by, she grew comfortable. Even so, she still harbored a dream of one day returning to school and earning a college degree.
Flash-forward to the fall of 2015. Diane is watching her son, Konrad, move into the Hassayampa Academic Village on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus — something she never experienced. He will begin classes at the W. P. Carey School of Business on Aug. 20.
But even though she never had that “college experience” of living on campus, she did eventually achieve her dream of a degree, thanks to ASU Online. In fact, it was only a few short months ago that she walked at ASU’s spring 2015 convocation ceremony in Tempe, graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies from the College of Letters and Sciences.
Back to the start
In 2000, more than a decade and a half after dropping out, Diane made the decision to re-embark on her college journey. She signed up for classes at a local community college in Valencia, California, where she resides.
She cites two big motivators: the birth of Konrad in 1997, and an instance in which she was overlooked for a promotion because she didn’t have a degree.
“I knew then that if I wanted to further my career, I would be limited,” she said.
Unfortunately, the community college didn’t offer any online courses, meaning Diane had to be physically present for every class. So she painstakingly tackled one course at a time in the spare time she was able to eke out between fulfilling her roles as wife, mother and career woman, which required frequent travel.
Then, during a business trip in 2010, Diane was on a plane when she heard a radio advertisement for ASU Online. She’d heard of plenty of online college opportunities before, but this was different. ASU was “reputable,” she said.
“I’ve hired lots of people throughout my career and when you look at where they went to school, it matters,” Diane said. “If you say ‘ASU’ or ‘Arizona State University,’ people know it; it’s recognizable. Other colleges that offer online courses are more obscure and don’t usually get a positive reaction.”
So in spring 2011, she began taking courses through ASU Online, interacting with students and professors, completing assignments and taking tests from hotels, airplanes and her home in Valencia. Finally able to take more than one course at a time, Diane made swift progress toward her degree.
When asked if it would have been possible to earn her degree without the flexibility of an online program, she is emphatic.
“I don’t know how I could have. Not that I wouldn’t have wanted to, but I honestly don’t know how I could have,” Diane said. “It wouldn’t have been physically possible.”
Continuing the Sun Devil legacy
Not everyone gets to see their parent graduate, but when Diane walked across the stage and was handed her degree this past spring, her son was there to witness it.
“Seeing my mom get her degree was really cool,” Konrad said. “It gave me some inspiration to want to be in the same place in a few years.”
Now, as a freshmen at his mother’s alma mater, he is certainly poised to be.
Konrad says it was his love of classic cars that made him realize he wanted to study business.
“I wanted to open my own [auto] shop and do custom work, and I realized I would need a business degree for that,” he said.
Though he considered other schools, he ultimately chose ASU and the W. P. Carey School in particular on the advice of trusted individuals.
“I talked to some really intelligent people who I trusted a lot, and they said the [W. P. Carey] School is really good, one of the best in the country,” Konrad said. “And it helped that my mom had just gotten her degree there.”
After experiencing firsthand the obstacles that often accompany the lack of a college degree, Diane couldn’t be happier that her son is on his way toward one.
“I am very excited for him to have that college experience because both my husband and I, the way we did it, we did distance learning (her husband attended Cal State Long Beach), and I had a great experience with it and my husband did as well, but I want Konrad to be able to take all of it in and do it while he’s young,” she said.
The next chapter
Diane is still working in the mortgage industry and recently joined a new company as a servicer oversight manager. She also recently received an offer from Thunderbird School of Global Management to enroll in a master’s program there, with a 60 percent tuition credit.
Though she hasn’t yet decided whether she’ll pursue Thunderbird’s offer, she’s interested in switching things up and looking into positions in human resources. Whatever she decides, she is now able to go further in her career than she thought possible just a few short years ago.