lauren and her family at a table

Lauren lives on post at the U.S. Army Garrison in Bamberg, Germany, a village in the Southern Bavaria region, where she is stationed with her husband and two young children. When she joined the BLS Program in January 2008, her husband was on deployment in Iraq. She was alone in base housing with the children, the dollar was weak against the euro, and there were no jobs to be had by an American spouse on the small post. What else to do? Lauren went to work on her bachelor’s degree!

It had not been an easy road. After getting a head start at Sandhills Community College, she joined the professional photography program at Randolph CC. Then after 9/11, her fiancé learned he was being deployed to Afghanistan. They married before he left, survived back-to-back deployments, and had two children over the next few years. Not to be deterred, Lauren continued to take general-education classes at Fayetteville CC throughout that period.

Then they were stationed in Germany, and Lauren admits it was a rough transition; “it definitely took some getting used to.” She persevered, and continued to take distance classes from Fayetteville CC, Randolph CC, and Sandhills CC, cobbling together the last of her general education requirements before joining the BLS Program. Despite all the complications, Lauren enjoyed her online courses. As she puts it, “Taking classes online has always been easy for me; I can work ahead, read ahead or finish early.”

Once she had finished her associate’s-level courses, the usual option for bachelor’s-level courses would have required out-of-state tuition, which is prohibitively expensive for a family on an enlisted salary. However, since North Carolina is Lauren’s home of record, she qualifies for in-state tuition at UNCG, making the BLS Program the most effective use of Lauren’s tuition dollars.

two women in a hallway

“I don’t think many people consider what it means to be attending a military friendly university, but UNCG definitely is that and the BLS Program has become the epitome of such a program for me.”

“The interaction with my classmates is varied and interesting and it is very pleasing to know that I am not alone in the distance education from such a distance. There is a level of camaraderie that I have found in the program that I know I would not find anywhere else.”