Today, more than 8,000 students in over 20 countries make up our virtual student body at Fort Hays State University. So, you may be aware of the partnerships that we’ve created with various Universities over in China, but did you know that even islanders out in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean have recognized the value of an education from FHSU’s Virtual College? Let’s take Mariana Faiai for example. Mariana lives on the island of American Samoa where higher education opportunities are far and few between. The American Samoa Community College there on the island provides a great starting block for students wanting to get a College Education, but after those two years of study, students have no other option but to move off the island to attend a University. Recently, more and more students in American Samoa are realizing that they do have other options thanks to FHSU’s online degree programs. These online programs offer them the opportunity to pursue a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree without leaving the island, their family, their friends and their jobs. Though 6,000 miles away, Mariana completed her Bachelors program in a year and a half as she took full load classes in the spring, fall, and summer semesters. She didn’t take a break after the Bachelors program and immediately started her Masters, once again through FHSU’s Virtual College. In her senior year, just when Mariana thought she was in the home stretch of reaching a huge educational milestone, her world was torn to pieces. Not only did her husband suffer from a terrible heart attack, but in the second-to-last semester of Mariana’s Master’s program, her house was destroyed by the devastating tsunami that hit the Western District of America Samoa. Despite the struggles of the tsunami, the health of her husband, raising a daughter, and working full-time, Mariana continued forward and graduated from FHSU with a Bachelor’s in Justice Studies and a Master’s of Liberal Studies (MLS) in Social Sciences. Not only did Mariana graduate with her Bachelor’s and Master’s, she also graduated with the admiration of FHSU’s faculty and received the National University Telecommunications Network (NUTN) Student Recognition Award!