Friday, May 13, 2011
MIDWEST IN THE MIDDLE EAST: DISTANCE STUDENT COMPLETES DIETETICS DEGREE WHILE IN SAUDI ARABIA
MANHATTAN -- Kansas State University dietetics student Mariem Boughoula, Taif, Saudi Arabia, is no stranger to learning at a distance.
Born and raised by Tunisian parents in the United States, Boughoula was home-schooled since the fourth grade. She completed her high school diploma through the American School of Correspondence after moving to the Middle East with her family.
"I have lived in Saudi Arabia for seven years now, and I spent five summers in Tunisia," Boughoula said. "This enabled me to experience many cultures that span three continents. I became familiar with the dietetic habits of these cultures and understood the Islamic food laws."
Boughoula's growing interest in food and health strengthened her decision to pursue a major in dietetics, but when it was time to choose a college path, she didn't want to leave her family.
"My parents and I researched online degrees in dietetics, and there was K-State. My parents would search for 'the best undergraduate distance programs in dietetics,' and K-State would be among the top," said Boughoula.
After completing two years of online classes with an emphasis in dietetics through Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kan., Boughoula was able to transfer to K-State and will complete her bachelor's degree in dietetics this May.
Although Boughoula credits her success in learning at a distance to keeping herself goal-oriented, self-directed and organized, she overcame additional challenges to reach her degree.
"Living in a developing country thousands of miles away from my college hometown has created new types of challenges that my classmates did not experience, from lack of public libraries and bookstores that carry American textbooks, to finding a proctor who is fluent in English, to staying up very late at night to participate in class discussions," she said.
"These challenges, unique to my situation, became experiences I shared with my instructors and classmates --experiences such as ordering books months in advance and becoming savvy in online searches."
One of Boughoula's most significant resources came from Deborah Canter, professor and graduate program director in the department of hospitality management and dietetics at K-State. Canter introduced Boughoula to a graduate of the K-State dietetics distance program who also completed her degree while in Saudi Arabia.
"We've kept in touch, and she gave me ideas on how I can complete certain labs while living in a very conservative country," Boughoula said. "Online education is challenging in the fact that sometimes one feels isolated, but keeping in touch with my classmates through live messenger has helped a lot."
Boughoula plans to complete an accredited dietetics internship, pass the Registered Dietetics Exam, and then pursue a master's degree in dietetics or human nutrition through K-State.
"I believe that online learning is the future of education. With the numerous courses, certificates and degrees that K-State offers online, it has become very feasible to return to school," Boughoula said. "All you need to succeed is motivation, dedication and discipline."