More than one way to earn a degree from FHSU

Allbritton family

By Diane Gasper-O'Brien
University Relations and Marketing
HAYS, Kan. -- With a full-time job and a family to provide for in Junction City, Nicholas Allbritton didn't have the time to complete his college degree at a nearby university.

So he went looking for "the best online school" he could find. That was a year ago.

Now, with diploma in hand, Allbritton can concentrate on his job and his family and on running for the Republican nomination to represent the 68th District in the Kansas House of Representatives. Allbritton originally had planned to run for the Republican 17th District Senate seat but switched just this week.

Allbritton, 27, and his family entourage -- some from as far away as Virginia -- were in Hays for last weekend's 2016 Fort Hays State University Commencement.

Early Saturday morning was the first time Allbritton set foot on the FHSU campus, and he was impressed from the time he entered the Robbins Center for a graduation meet and greet for Virtual College graduates.

"Even the president was so personable," Allbritton said of Dr. Mirta M. Martin. "She went out of her way to make us feel welcome."

Allbittron graduated from a local private school in Junction City in 2006 and attended two colleges before deciding to follow his father into the U.S. military.

In his third year of serving in the Kansas Air National Guard, Allbritton covers the Kansas area as a computer consultant for CompuCom Technologies out of Texas.

Following three internships in the Kansas Legislature, including a stint working for Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer from Grinnell of the 40th District, Allbritton decided to enter his first race.

Thus began his search for an online school where he could finish his bachelor's degree.

"I have always wanted to serve people," Allbritton said, "and the people of Kansas are the best. I decided if I want to serve the people of Kansas, I have to educate myself."

It took just one phone call to solidify Allbritton's choice.

"I called Fort Hays State, and the admissions person was just awesome, so helpful," Allbritton said. "The process was so seamless."

Several other Virtual College students also came to Fort Hays State for their first time over the weekend, some from other states.

"I hope being here allows you to get in touch with your roots here," Martin told the graduates. "We believe we are a family, and you are a very important part of our family."

Allbritton, who earned a degree in political science, said Fort Hays University "has helped me achieve my dream of running for public office."

In so doing, he will be accepting Martin's challenge to the graduates.

"The more lives you touch, the more intentional your actions, the more networks you make, the more alert and engaged you become in the well-being of others -- the greater your influence will be," Martin said during her commencement speech. "This is the great lesson you take with you from Fort Hays State University."

Allbritton is taking that lesson to heart.

"The main reason I am running is to help the people of Kansas," Allbritton said. "I believe we can unify, change and inspire Kansas on issues of jobs, education and helping veterans in order to ensure a greater Kansas for future generations."

On the issue of education, Allbritton will be the first to advocate for FHSU's Virtual College.

"The Virtual College has worked extremely well with my busy schedule, " he said. "All the faculty and staff have been very helpful. They have made my experience at Fort Hays State University one to remember. "

Allbritton's first trip to the FHSU campus was one to remember, too.

Following commencement, he visited the campus bookstore and bought a Fort Hays State hoodie.

"I figured I'd better get something, it being my first time on campus," he said. "I want to represent Fort Hays State. "

Allbritton has done that by example, showing that students can earn degreed in different ways than attending traditional on-campus classes -- and at different times in their lives.

"I tell people you can still earn a degree, " he said, "even if it's not right out of high school. "

He also suggests which university to contact for online classes.

"I am just so fortunate to have had the experience of Fort Hays State University, which has changed my life for the better, " he said.

"I tell people every chance I get that Fort Hays State has the best Virtual College around," he added. "When I have the opportunity to speak or motivate people I am proud to say that Fort Hays State University is where I graduated from. "

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