Hundreds of successful graduates will receive their University of Missouri diplomas at commencement exercises this weekend (May 13–14). Among them are nearly 300 distance students who have earned their degrees and certificates through online classes.

“It takes great discipline and determination to stay on top of course work while also managing the work load of daily life,” said Sasha Schmid, head tennis coach and an instructor for MU’s online master’s in positive coaching, who addresses the graduates in filmed remarks for Mizzou’s online commencement ceremony.

“I am in awe of these learners’ commitment to continued education often in the midst of full time jobs, sometimes even multiple jobs, the demands of caring for young children, or sometimes caring for elderly parents,” Schmid said.

Mizzou’s online graduates range in age from 22 to 64. Most of them have completed post-graduate degrees; nearly 250 are receiving doctorates, educational specialist or master's degrees.

One of the graduates is Lt. Buddy Anliker, who completed his master of public affairs degree online while working full time for the MU Police Department. “The ability to network with all of these extremely intelligent professionals during my time as a student has made me a better leader,” Anliker said.

Anliker delivers remarks to his fellow graduates in his filmed address on the commencement website, at online.missouri.edu/commencement. Graduates can use the site to share photos and their friends and families can use the site to write congratulatory notes in the online guest book.

“We’re honored to have had the opportunity to help these graduates prepare for the next step, whether it’s professional advancement or personal enrichment," said Kim Siegenthaler, Mizzou Online director. “We hope the online commencement site gives them a place to celebrate their accomplishments because, in many cases, these distance students aren’t able to travel to campus for graduation ceremonies.”

For more information about the on-campus graduation ceremonies, please visit the Registrar's commencement page at commencement.missouri.edu.