High School Student Who Attends Online College Wins GetEducated.com Scholarship

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An Alabama teen who wants to become an interpreter for deaf children has been awarded a GetEducated distance learning scholarship. The high-schooler juggles senior-year classes with online courses offered by Troy University.

Megan McConnell, Online Scholarshp Winner

Online learning is easier - I get to choose what time of day I want to do it.

A high-school student who also is taking online college courses is GetEducated.com's newest distance education scholarship winner.

Megan McConnell, 17, of Montgomery, AL, hopes to become a sign language interpreter for deaf schoolchildren. She is taking online college classes through Troy University's new Accelerate "dual enrollment" program, while finishing her senior year of high school at Prattville Christian Academy.

Megan has been awarded a $1,000 Excellence in Online Education Scholarship. She is working toward her bachelor's degree in interpreter training at Troy, an Alabama-based school that offers both on-campus and online degree programs.

In addition to working with deaf children in schools, Megan would like to use her degree to start a deaf ministry at her church.

"This is a great need where I live," she says. "Many deaf people have not been taught about the love of God because hearing people do not want to learn their language to tell them."

Megan says she became interested in learning sign language due to her mother's boss, who is the child of deaf parents and whose mother sometimes visits the credit union where Megan's mother works. Megan's mother learned sign language in order to communicate with her boss's mother.

"I picked up a little from my mom," says Megan. "I've always liked it."

For Megan, earning her degree will mean more than job security. "The main reason I want a degree," she says, "is so I can help others and serve them."

Amy Spry, coordinator of Troy University's Accelerate program, calls Megan one of the most courageous students she's encountered.

"Megan started out taking American sign language online and, as you can imagine, there are a lot of technical components to a sign language class completed over the Internet," says Spry. "I thought that was awful brave to tackle that as her first online class ever! She did a fantastic job in it."

Megan used a webcam to communicate with her online instructor and classmates.

After she graduates from high school, Megan says she may attend Troy's residential campus, which is about 30 miles from home. For now, though, online learning is working better for her: "I think it's kind of easier -- I get to choose what time of day I want to do it, instead of having a certain time."

Troy began its Accelerate program in the summer of 2009. Spry says dual enrollment programs -- in which high-schoolers take college courses -- are on the rise, especially those that provide distance courses. "People are realizing what flexibility and advantages online classes offer students," says Spry.

GetEducated.com offers $1,000 Excellence in Online Education scholarships to distance learning students who meet academic and financial eligibility requirements. Deadline for next year's scholarships is Oct. 15, 2010.

More information about Megan is available at GetEducated.com.

About: Founded in 1989, GetEducated.com is a consumer advocacy group that reviews, rates and ranks online colleges along the dimensions that matter most to consumers: cost and credibility.

CONTACT: Lorna Collier, Information Services, GetEducated.com, LLC, Essex Junction, VT. 05452. 802-899-4866. Website: http://www.geteducated.com

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