Program starting Spring 2015!

We are not accepting applications for the MBA for Fall 2014 at this time. Please contact us to be added to our Wait List for Spring 2015.

The MBA program has received university and MnSCU System approval. We anticipate a start date of Spring 2015, pending final review.

Next Stop: Master’s Degree

wendy fullWendy Holder
Brainerd, MN
Major: Nursing
BSU Class of 2011
Route: online
Career: RN and Clinical nursing instructor

Career aspiration:
Do more teaching, possibly full-time in a nursing program where she can share her own experiences and help others prepare for professional nursing careers.

In 2008, Wendy Holder, a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Brainerd, had a chance conversation with the nursing director at Central Lakes College. It was just two weeks before school started, and the director needed a clinical instructor for the LPN program. Holder decided to give it a try.

“When I first started teaching, I was scared to death,” Holder recalls. “But by the time I was done with the semester, the students had no idea that it was the first clinical that I had taught.”

Holder taught twice a week for two semesters but needed her bachelor’s degree to continue. The challenge, she says, was finding a program flexible enough for her to continue working at the hospital, teaching part-time and managing family life.

Holder’s life is full. She and her husband have four children, two still at home, and their first grandchild. They live on a hobby farm, tending to 75 chickens, six 4-H calves, two horses and a pony; a vegetable garden; and prized flowerbeds. In the fall, the entire family enjoys deer hunting. She didn’t want to give any of that up to return to college.

Then a colleague suggested Bemidji State. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is a lot of classes,’” Holder says, recalling her first look at the BSU curriculum. “And it was all online, and that seemed like a big challenge to me. My two daughters helped a lot with the computer part.”

Starting the BSU program in Fall 2009, she spent the following summer working toward her associate’s degree, which she will complete with a combination of online and self-directed study courses. Now comfortable with online-learning, she added Internet access to her cell phone for even more convenience.

“The flexibility of the BSU program is really nice,” says Holder, who often studies at the kitchen table with her two youngest children, 15 and 11. “If we’ve got something going on with the kids, I can participate. I can work ahead and be with them.”

Plus, she says that she finds the coursework more rigorous and comprehensive than she anticipated.

“Not all programs do as much as we do at Bemidji State,” Holder explains. “We cover a lot more material and in more detail than they do in some other places. I feel a little more prepared with BSU than if I’d gone with another program.”

She admits her flower garden has suffered while she’s been studying, but she’s excited about finishing her degree. Next, she says, she may pursue a master’s degree.

The Right Balance

tishara fullTishara Melcher
Middle River, MN
Major: Career/technical education certificate and
secondary education licensure
BSU graduate: 2010
Route: BSU online
Career: Massage therapy instructor

Tishara Melcher had two young children, a busy husband and a new job when she enrolled as a BSU online student in 2007. By the time she finished her degree in 2010, her family had celebrated the birth of a new member born the previous year.

“I worked, had a baby, and earned my degree,” Melcher says with a laugh. “It can be done. My advice to anyone thinking about it is to go for it. BSU will do what it can to make it work for you.”

She had always intended to complete her degree but moved with her parents from Karlstad, MN, to San Diego, CA, just one year into her college studies. Because college in California was more expensive for her, she completed a massage therapist program instead and returned to Minnesota. At age 20, she launched a massage therapy practice.

In 2006, Northland Community and Technical College asked her to develop a training program for massage therapists. Melcher jumped at the chance but soon learned she needed a teaching certificate. BSU’s online certificate program kept her chance to teach alive. After completing the BSU certificate program online, she decided to pursue her four-year degree.

“I really wanted to know more about teaching and to earn my bachelor’s degree,” Melcher says. Having earned some credits for the teaching experience she already had, she tailored her bachelor’s program to fit her professional interests.

“The ability to customize the program and the flexibility to complete coursework online were huge for me,” Melcher says, noting that she usually studied after her kids went to bed.

She admits that she put in some late nights, but she also managed time for family events such as camping at Itasca State Park. With online access at the park lodge, she logged on for a class session without foregoing family fun. Keeping her life in balance, she notes, was key to her success.

“What’s great about the BSU online program is that you’re still able to live life, get your degree, and be balanced,” Melcher says. “I was really able to do everything that I wanted.”

As an online student, she never set foot on campus, but she’s a proud graduate and owner of a BSU sweatshirt ordered online, of course.


From Stay at Home Mom to Media Specialist

Gina_Full SizeGina Drellack
Bagley, MN
Major: Elementary Education
BSU Graduate: 2007
Route: DLiTE

Gina Drellack was a stay-at-home mom until her youngest of two children started kindergarten at Bagley Elementary School. She soon began working as the school’s library media para-professional. That’s when she first aspired to become a school librarian.

“I loved the students; I loved the books; I just loved the whole thing,” Drellack recalls. “That’s when I decided to go back to school.”

Then recently divorced, she also wanted more financial stability for her children, but she didn’t want to sacrifice her time with them while earning her degree.

“DLiTE allowed me to keep my full-time job, be a mom and keep my life,” Drellack explains. “I would get up at 4 a.m. before the kids got up so I could study and still be mom when they got home from school. I couldn’t have done it without the DLiTE program. It helped enhance my life instead of getting in the way.”

Drellack also appreciated the support of her teacher mentor, a required partner in the DLiTE program. Mentors help students build professional networks and introduce them to a variety of student-teaching experiences throughout their studies.

“You start and finish each semester on campus with face-to-face instruction, but every single class connects you with your mentor teacher,” she says. “That person helps you connect with other teachers.”

Drellack finished the six-semester program in five semesters. The accelerated pace is not something she would recommend. However, she wanted to be a candidate for the Bagley media specialist job that was opening up. BSU administrators worked with her to accommodate her timeline.

“The instructors are phenomenal,” Drellack says. “They understand that this is real life.”

She has since completed her library certification at another institution and is working on her master’s degree. Best of all, she has her dream job as a media specialist for the Bagley School District.

“Online learning has been the vehicle that transformed my life,” Drellack says. “From where I started to where I am now is a huge success story.”

Student Stories

Our graduates enroll in Extended Learning at BSU to enhance their skill set, broaden their education and advance their careers. They are ambitious, hard working and ready to take on the world. Just like you.

Gina DrellackGina Drellack | Bagley, Minnesota

Major: Bachelor of Science, elementary education
BSU Graduate: 2007

Career: Media Specialist
Bagley School District, Bagley, Minnesota

Read more about Gina’s story

Riley HolmRiley Holm | Virginia, Minnesota

Major: Bachelor of Science, psychology
BSU graduate: 2007

Career: Program director
Range Mental Health Center, Virginia, Minnesota


Tishara MelcherTishara Melcher | Middle River, Minnesota

Major: Career and technical education certificate and secondary education licensure
BSU graduate: 2010

Career: Massage therapy instructor
Northland Community and Technical College, Thief River Falls, Minnesota

Read more about Tishara’s story

Wendy HolderWendy Holder | Brainerd, Minnesota

Major: RN to Bachelor of Science in nursing
BSU Class of 2011

Career: St. Joseph’s Hospital, RN, Grace Unit, and Clinical nursing instructor
Central Lakes College, Brainerd, Minnesota

Career aspiration:
Do more teaching, possibly full-time in a nursing program where she can share her own experiences and help others prepare for professional nursing careers.

Read more about Wendy’s story