Archives For Student Stories

The Sam Houston State University motto, “The Measure of a Life is Its Service,” resonates deeply with SHSU Online student Peary Perry.

Perry, 73, a Houston resident, has lived a full life. He served his country in the United States Army as a tank commander, worked in the Houston Police Department as an undercover vice squad officer, and acted as president of several successful companies across a multitude of industries.

When it comes to pursuing his online Master of Arts in History degree, Perry makes the case for online learning, coupled with hard work and dedication, to help individuals overcome adversity to achieve their goals.

“I hear a lot of people say ‘I’m too old to go back to school, or I should have gotten my degree but I didn’t,’ and what I’m trying to emphasize is that you’re never too old to learn, you’re never too old to get a degree, and there’s always an opportunity out here for you if you want to take advantage of it,” he says. “I’m not your normal master’s student, but this is a professional opportunity and a challenge for me to pass on to others that you’re never too old to learn.”

Admittedly, getting back into higher education was a transitional period for Perry. He received his undergraduate degree from St. Edward’s University in 2008, attending both online and on-campus courses. He enrolled in SHSU’s online master’s program in fall, 2014, and was pleasantly surprised to see the technological advancements in his online courses.

Perry says his courses are immersive, with a variety of classwork that utilizes several mediums.

“What brought me to SHSU was the ease of enrollment, the description of courses, and the references that I found from prior students made me think this was the place I needed to be,” he says, “But the style of learning is what got me hooked. Today there is more encouragement to participate in classes, which I enjoy much more because you are encouraged to express your feelings about certain subjects.”

SHSU has received numerous awards for their student engagement within online programs, promoting quality participation in courses, providing students opportunities to both readily interact with their instructors and classmates, and allowing students to complete their degrees in a reasonable amount of time.

Perry is not alone in his educational journey; in fact, his support system acts as an inspiration for him completing his degree.

“The reason this is important to me is because I have four sons, my oldest is 51 and my youngest is 39, and I have three granddaughters, 22, 10, and 2; I think it is very important for them to know they are never too old to learn, whether it’s cooking, history, or economics,” he says. “My experience has been, the more you exercise your brain, the more alive you are.”

SHSU offers over 40 fully online degree programs, including two doctoral programs, as well as 24 online certificate programs. For more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit

Life can be complicated. Between professional responsibilities, family commitments, and financial obligations, it can be hard to find time for anyone to chase their dreams. This reasoning was dismissed by Terri Allison, who returned to school to pursue an undergraduate degree through SHSU Online despite an abundance of commitments.

Allison, a mother of three and case manager for the Aggie Honor System Office at Texas A&M University, is pursuing an online B.S. in Criminal Justice to explore her passions and to be an example for her children.

“Part of it is the feeling that you have to finish what you start, and trying to impart to my kids you’re not always going to have a straightforward path; you’re not always going to graduate high school, do four years of college, and begin your career,” she says. “Letting them see that, even at my age, I could go back and I could get my degree is important.”

Allison’s family, daughters Tegan and Kristen, son Charlie, and husband Randal, have been an essential support system for her online education, but a promise made to her stepfather, Don Wood, remains in the forefront of her mind years after his passing.

“My stepfather was dyslexic at a time when no one really knew how to treat the disease, so he dropped out of high school at 17; three days after his 18th birthday, he was at Pearl Harbor when the attack happened,” she says. “He never did any college credit, and that was why it was so important for all of his children to get their degree. I promised him I’d get my bachelor’s completed eventually, and he said ‘Don’t let it get away from you.’”

Allison was pursuing her Associate in Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies at Blinn College at the time of his passing.

When it came to finding the right fit for her personal life and professional aspirations, she says SHSU was the clear choice for her.

“I looked at a lot of schools, and Sam Houston State University has by far the best reputation for criminal justice. It really dovetails with my paralegal background,” she says. “After taking one of my first classes, Corrections, I definitely knew this was for me. It’s a perfect setup. SHSU has everything I want right there.”

With an expected graduation term of Spring 2016, Allison says the journey that has taken her to this point gives her the conviction to succeed and continue to develop personally and professionally.

“I’ve been at my job for more than 20 years, and I could easily stay with my current job and retire comfortably, but that’s not where my passion lies,” she says. “I want to do more and give back to those who helped me. I want to continue my education for a Masters in Mediation and then work in Restorative Justice, a field I like and a field that’s changing. I want to be part of those changes.”

When Rebecca Gay completed her undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State University in 2008, she did not realize the extent to which the university would influence her professional career.

Upon graduation, Gay took a position with the university as a transfer admissions counselor with the Undergraduate Admissions office.  Working in the office and regularly speaking with enthusiastic students eventually played a part in influencing her to pursue a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration.

rebecca gay

“In my position, I think getting a degree in higher education basically says that I believe in the values of the university,” she says. “Working for a university, it’s important that you feel everyone should further their education in some way. By pursuing a graduate degree, it helps instill that ambition in others and they see me making the effort to further my education.”

Gay, who is currently pursuing her graduate degree while also serving as a continuing education coordinator with SHSU Online, says her decision to pursue an online degree through SHSU Online is a testament to her confidence in the university’s educational philosophy.

Initially, she decided to try an online course to gauge her interest with the platform and found it to be beneficial to her lifestyle and study habits.

“Taking online courses helped me to stay focused on the program; I can just hop on a computer and easily turn in an assignment and I’m not required to go to a classroom or an office to submit work,” she says. “I’m a huge procrastinator, and what’s nice about the online program is that if an assignment is due at midnight, I have until 11:30 p.m. to keep working on it before I turn it in,” she says.

Continuing her education is a personal motivator for Gay, who is the first in her family to pursue a graduate degree, and she says the online platform allowed her to follow her ambitions while maintaining a demanding, full-time job.

She said in addition to the ease and accessibility of online courses, the platform helped her grow as a student.

“I think people don’t realize that online and classroom courses are very much alike in that there is a lot of student interaction. One of the most beneficial things for me was when professors used discussion boards.  Typically, I would have been a student in a classroom that probably would not have spoken up about a topic, whereas online you are required to write on a discussion board and put your opinion out there and critically think about the topic.”

SHSU Online utilizes the Blackboard Learn format, allowing students and professors to participate in a variety of communication applications.

Visit to find out more about the online Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration offered through SHSU Online, and see what you can do to get started today!

In a world full of opportunity, SHSU Online student Cathrine Henson is proof that a quality education is always available at Sam Houston State University.

Henson, who is currently taking online courses in higher education administration, has walked an unconventional path to achieve her educational goals. That path included two years of service in the United States Air Force as a jet engine mechanic, which she completed before returning to finish her undergraduate degree. Continue reading

Rebecca Cunio (Courtesy of William Betancourt, Tyler, TX)

After talking for two hours about ongoing sexual abuse at the trusted hands of her stepfather, a precious seven-year old girl handed Forensic Interviewer Rebecca Cunio a drawing of a large heart encircled by smaller ones. It read “I love you for what you do.” For Cunio, it was a defining moment in her career.“

Rebecca Cunio, an online Masters student at SHSU, is a forensic interviewer for the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) for Anderson and Cherokee counties. The center is one of 64 CAC’s in the state of Texas, and among 700 others across the country that provide a single place where children alleged to have been abused or neglected are interviewed for criminal cases and civil actions by Child Protective Services. As a forensic interviewer, Cunio conducts forensic interviews with children at the request of law enforcement and/or Child Protective Services.

Read Rebecca’s story at SHSU’s College of Criminal Justice blog!

The athletic achievements of Timothy Flanders are spoken as common knowledge across the campus of Sam Houston State University and recognized in various media outlets online. An impromptu Google search of “Timothy Flanders” will deliver a catalog of scouting reports, video highlights, and statistics dating back to his career at Midwest City High School.

From the outside looking in, it is understandable to think Flanders’ thoughts are consumed by all things football, but a familiar voice inside his head delivers a contrary message.
Continue reading

SHSU Online Student and Sam Houston Bearkat Running Back Timothy Flanders Touchdown Run Against SE Louisiana

Congratulations to SHSU Online student Timothy Flanders, and the rest of the Sam Houston State Bearkats on their 70-0 shut out victory over Southeastern Louisiana Saturday afternoon. Eat ‘Em Up Kats!

Charles Henson (SHSU Online Video Producer) Filming SHSU Online's December Student Story

The SHSU Online video team was out Tuesday morning filming for our next Student Story that will release in our SHSU Online Newsletter in December. If you’re a student and would like to share your story, please contact Dianne Lloyd at

Timothy Flanders - SHSU Online Student Stories

In the October edition of the SHSU Online newsletter we visit with Sam Houston State University running back Timothy Flanders. Yes, that Timothy FlandersRead more about Timothy Flanders, his experience at Sam Houston State University, and what’s next for the all-time leading scorer in Bearkat football history. >

Finishing what you start is important to many people, and Katie Halbert is no exception. Katie began her college education 10 years ago when she graduated from high school and will be receiving her Bachelor of Business Administration and General Business degree in August, 2012.

One thing that helped her realize this dream was being able to take online classes. “Being able to take online classes really helped,” Katie said. “At the time I was looking for a new job and I could take online classes from anywhere.” She partially credits the flexibility of online courses for her success.

Like many non-traditional students, Katie had family obligations to balance with her studies. Katie got married six years ago and recently had a daughter, Molly. Her family has also moved several times.  Continue reading