Active Duty Animal Science: Olivia Jones Pursues Her Passion

NC State belltower and the American Flag.

Photo by Roger Winstead.

Olivia Jones
Olivia Jones is completing the program with a 4.0 grade-point average.

When Olivia Jones graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2017, she had two dreams –– to serve her country in the military and become a veterinarian. Now, as a graduating student in NC State’s online Master of Animal Science, she’s doing both. 

Jones is an active duty Air Force officer, working as the Chief of Manpower and Personnel Programs at the Holm Center on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. While working full time, Jones wanted to keep her brain active, so she decided to take a distance education animal science class through NC State. 

“I absolutely loved the class and decided that I had the bandwidth to take on a distance education master’s degree. I wanted a degree that would not only interest me but also complement my passion for veterinary medicine. It was important for me to choose a school with a reputation that would stand out on my application for veterinary school as well.”

“I discovered that NC State was one of the only schools in the U.S. to offer a distance education option for a master’s in animal science. NC State also has a prestigious veterinary school, so it was an honor to be accepted into NC State’s Master of Animal Science distance education program.”

Since starting the program in the fall of 2018, Jones has taken one to two classes every semester (spring, summer, and fall) even as she traveled throughout the U.S. for work and took a seven-month deployment. Despite her busy schedule, Jones has never had an issue balancing work and school thanks to the program’s flexible five-year timeline. 

Jones and a fellow air force officer hold up their entymology presentation.
Jones worked with the pest control service members on a deployment to complete a project for her online entomology class.

“The advanced animal science courses required for the program have been challenging –– but this is exactly what I was hoping for. The coursework required not only keeps my undergraduate knowledge fresh but has forced me to stay current with the latest in research and animal science news.”

Now that her time in the program is complete, Jones feels ready for veterinary school. She appreciates all of the professors who have gone to great lengths to support her needs, whether it be extending due dates, adding additional office hours or even adjusting project rubrics to accommodate her environment, especially Teaching Associate Professor Miles Engell

“She was an absolutely amazing lecturer and really got me excited about animal science.”

Jones highly recommends the program to others interested in a career as an animal scientist. 

“I value how involved and challenging this program has been for being a distance education option (even before COVID-19). I would advise others interested in an online science degree to ensure they can dedicate the same amount of time to the courses that they would if they were attending in person.”

“I also recommend students to communicate with their professors early in the semester to give them a heads up on potential times in the semester when you may be unable to navigate the course schedule. By establishing a line of communication early on, it will be much more reasonable for the professor to accommodate your needs.”

Since she cannot attend this spring’s in-person commencement ceremony, Jones plans to host a small ceremony for herself in Alabama. One thing is for sure –– the #OnlinePack will be cheering her on from around the world. 

Congratulations, Olivia!

Are you interested in pursuing your passion for animals at a distance? Explore the online Master of Animal Science program

This post was originally published in Online and Distance Education News.