“EKU’s online education program allowed me the opportunity not only to come back and further my education as an adult, [but to do it] when I thought it might be too late to earn my degree,” said graduate Michael Rega, BSc, NRP, FP-C.
Actually, he did not earn just one degree, he earned three. Rega just completed his master’s degree in safety, security and emergency management, and he had a few people to thank for supporting him along the way. One of them was Chris Adkins, his first EKU Online advisor.
He emailed Adkins a photo of himself in his commencement regalia with a short note that read “Thank you, Chris, for everything from the beginning of my educational journey.”
A Special Student
Rega, who lives in Canton, Ga., was a first for Adkins, too. “Michael was the very first student that I worked with as an online advisor for the ASP, so he’s always been a special student to me,” he said. Adkins is the enrollment advisor for the EKU Online Emergency Medical Care Program. He worked with Rega when he earned his associate degree in paramedicine (ASP) and again when he got his bachelor’s degree in emergency medical care.
“I learned how to be a student at EKU,” said Rega. Initially, he did not think he had the skills to finish college, but — with encouragement from Adkins and the faculty — he realized he could be successful.
Building on Paramedic Skills
Rega built on the knowledge and skills he had gained as a paramedic and earned his flight paramedic certification. He is a critical care paramedic for one of the largest hospitals in the state. The education he earned at EKU Online had other benefits, in addition to career advancement. He became a part of something bigger. “The program also allowed me to become a member of the student community, whether it was through student organizations or by becoming an EKU alumnus,” he said.
He planned to reconnect with Adkins and others at the spring 2020 graduation ceremony, but the in-person celebration has been postponed due to COVID-19.Instead, Rega has been putting his emergency management mindset to use as a transportation coordinator for an alternate care facility treating coronavirus patients at the Georgia World Congress Center.
Rega looks forward to continuing his career in public service. He has thought about working for the federal government – possibly for an emergency operations center run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or another health protection agency.
He hopes there’s an in-person graduation ceremony this fall, and Adkins agrees. He’s glad that Rega has stayed in touch and has loved celebrating every EKU degree with him. He won’t forget soon forget seeing Rega’s latest graduation photo in his inbox. “There is something about the visual that makes it even better,” he said.
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