FHSU Online a rewarding experience for graduate


Cody Erwin has visited the Fort Hays State University campus just once. This weekend, he will leave with a diploma in hand and a self-described new lease on life.

Erwin, who lives in Wichita, will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in geosciences with an emphasis in geography during FHSU’s first on-campus commencement ceremonies since May 2019. Graduates from the spring 2020 and fall 2020 semesters were honored through virtual recognitions because of the pandemic.

He will then begin online classes for a master’s degree in GIS (geographic information systems) at Kent State University this fall. Erwin’s undergraduate work also was done remotely through FHSU Online. Although he earned his degree from afar, Erwin wanted to walk across the stage to receive his diploma, because it’s an accomplishment that took a lot of determination to achieve.

Erwin started working on a degree online in 2017 because of the flexibility it offered. He could take classes at his own pace while still working full-time.

Searching for a school with a strong online presence is how Erwin first discovered FHSU.

“I was looking for an accredited online college, and I learned that Fort Hays State has an enormous online presence,” he said. “I can’t say enough positive things about the geosciences department and the faculty there. They have kept me intrigued and moving forward.”

Erwin was furloughed when the pandemic forced WSU to remote operations for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. He took a job at Target to pay the bills and he was able to keep making progress on his degree.

Shortly thereafter, he learned about a position with the City of Haysville, a suburb of Wichita. It turned out to be the perfect fit – for Erwin and the City of Haysville.

Haysville was in search of someone to help make its public works department more efficient, and Erwin said he was able to “hit the ground running” while working with the ESRI suite of applications to implement workflow management throughout the Public Works Department.

“What I learned through the online program at FHSU – such a strong foundational understanding of GIS – I was able to put to use at my job immediately,” he said.

With secure employment once again, Erwin was able to finish his degree this semester. He has no qualms about beginning his online master’s program at Kent State because of a positive experience through FHSU Online.

He especially enjoyed virtual field trips taught by Dr. Ken Neuhauser, who retired from FHSU in 2018 but continued teaching those classes through 2020 as an adjunct professor.

“Ken Neuhauser’s virtual classes are phenomenal,” Erwin said. “I emailed him and asked to take every class of his before he retired. I can’t say enough good things about the geosciences department and the faculty at Fort Hays State. They are an amazing group of people.”

Erwin encountered a positive experience from the beginning of his undergraduate work when he took a class with Dr. Richard Lisichenko, a professor of geosciences, whose concentration is GIS. “I’ve always been intrigued with the study of the earth and geosciences,” Erwin said. “My first course with Dr. Lisichenko, Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, had me hooked.”

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