Police investigator finds FHSU right choice

Bremner, Eric

By Randy Gonzales
University Relations and Marketing
HAYS, Kan. -- To further his career, Eric Bremner had to look no further than Fort Hays State University.

Bremner, a supervising investigator for the San Bernardino County District Attorney's office in San Bernardino, Calif., was looking for a college where he could get his master's degree online, with the hope of earning a promotion upon completion.

"As time progressed, I realized by the time I was promoted to sergeant in 2002 with no degree, it was the end of the line," Bremner said. "I wouldn't go any further unless I finalized my education."

Bremner finished his bachelor's degree in less than a year in 2014. He then focused on finding a school to get his master's. A member of an FBI task force that Bremner supervised had attended FHSU and mentioned the university to Bremner.

"He said it was a good program and affordable," Bremner said.

Bremner checked it out, and he liked what he saw. He enrolled for the spring 2015 semester, seeking a Master's of Professional Studies in Criminal Justice, and he graduated last month.

"I completed my bachelor's degree and went straight into the Fort Hays State program so I would be in position to promote up to an administrative position by the end of my career," Bremner said.

Bremner said the online course work at FHSU was extensive, the same as if he was in a classroom -- which he appreciated.

"This was the first experience I had with a true online program," Bremner said. "The setup there was very good.

"I liked the interaction; I liked the assignments," he added. "The instructors didn't hold back. You've got to work -- they don't hold back."

Dr. John Raacke, chair of FHSU's Department of Criminal Justice, said online students receive the same quality education as those on campus.

"We have the same level of expectations, the same amount of course work -- you name it, it's in there," he said. "It's just done through virtual means."

Raacke said Bremner was an exceptional and dedicated student.

"Eric was very inquisitive, had good questions," Raacke said. "He was what you would expect from somebody who had a lot going on. Eric was really easy as a student."

Bremner, who lives outside San Bernardino in Norco, Calif., completed his master's degree in three semesters -- while working full time and helping raise three young children.

Dennis King, assistant vice president for student affairs at FHSU, said Bremner's decision to further his education will not only help him but also his children.

"One of the things that's truly rewarding about the Virtual College is the family members," King said. "Think about those kids seeing their dad go through that program, studying online.

"They witness somebody working hard to better themselves and their family," he added. "It's going to be rewarding, because we know (his children) are going to expect to go to college, do everything they can to get there."

With costs a factor, Bremner also appreciated FHSU's low tuition -- especially compared to other schools he was considering. Bremner's tuition at another institution to finish his bachelor's degree cost $15,000, while tuition for his master's degree at FHSU was $8,000.

"You're not going to be one of those people that come out of college $40,000 to $50,000 in debt, because the tuition is so reasonable and the education you get is as good or better," he said. "That's why I tell people in my line of work to look at Fort Hays State. You just can't beat it."

King said maintaining high standards of excellence -- while at the same time providing an affordable, quality education -- is important.

"We know we're offering challenging academic programs and making sure the students meet the outcomes of the programs," King said. "When we talk about replicating the same program online as on campus, the cost of tuition has to do with it as well. Our access to quality and getting an affordable education is our focus both on campus and off."

With FHSU degree in hand, Bremner, 48, now looks at a brighter future.

"My goal, within the next year or two, is to move up into a management position," he said. "I'm in a good position now to compete for that spot and hopefully get it. Without this master's degree I would not be as competitive with the other people in our office."

Bremner has been in law enforcement for 25 years. Times have changed, he said. Bremner realized that these days, to further your career, you need that piece of paper hanging on the wall. He's proud to be a Fort Hays State graduate.

"The quality of education I received and the tuition I paid made this by far the best deal out there," Bremner said. "There's no comparison."

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