Dana Papanikolaou

Dana Papanikolaou
Dana Papanikolaou

Dana Papanikolaou
BA in English
Cedarburg, Wisconsin

For the past few years, Dana Papanikolaou has been living with health problems associated with a chronic illness. Stuck at home, she began looking for a program that offered her a way to finish her undergraduate degree in English completely online. She found UIS.

“Not many reputable online bachelor of English programs exist,” she says, “so I was incredibly pleased to find UIS, a brick and mortar institution with a reputation for quality that offered an English degree online. ”

Her coursework at UIS, she says, has expanded her horizons in unexpected ways: “I never would have ventured into the library to grab a graphic novel, for instance, but after my class with Dr. Lan Dong,* not only am I interested in the genre, but I have a new understanding of and respect for works presented in other alternate formats.”

One of her most challenging assignments was for a communication class, COM 112. “I avoid public speaking whenever possible,” she says, “but for this course I had to write speeches about random topics and go out in public to deliver them. The strangers I spoke to were far from interested in what I was saying, but in an odd way that made the experience even better!”

Because of her illness, Dana has appreciated the ability to control her physical learning environment, but her online experience has offered more than flexibility. “In my opinion,” she says, “online courses often require more dedication, hard work, and careful planning than on-campus courses do, so earning an online degree has been a test of personal strength.”

If so, Dana has passed that test with high marks: Based on her academic performance and engagement, Dana was chosen to serve as the undergraduate marshal for English at the UIS Commencement on Saturday, May 16. This is one of the department’s highest honors.

Without a doubt, she would recommend the online program at UIS to a friend. The one improvement she’d like to see in the online program? “At times I wished there was more outreach to the online students. As an out-of-state online student who has no physical access to campus, I had a few frustrating moments trying to access the right person or material to answer my questions.”

On the whole, however, Dana has thoroughly enjoyed her experience at UIS: “I am relieved to be done writing papers and posts, but I am also sad that this chapter is coming to an end. I’m not sure if I’m sad to be leaving academia in general, UIS specifically, or both. Either way I know that the past two years here have been amazing which makes leaving bittersweet.”

Her next challenge? Using the summer to plan her future!

*ENG 381 – ECCE: Graphic Novel with Dr. Lan Dong