MSU Center for Distance Education draws students from region, continent

Contact: Karen Crow

Thomas Pepin, an MBA graduate from Toronto, Canada, and MSU Center for Distance Education Coordinator Hope Durst visit at the recent graduation reception. (Photo submitted)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Forty years after beginning his academic studies at Mississippi State, Victor Cavett of Jackson now is a graduate.

He, Ryan M. Cross of Cumming, Georgia, and Thomas M. Pepin of Toronto, Canada, are among more than 400 students completing degrees during 2016 through the university’s Center for Distance Education.

Pepin joined the land-grant institution’s alumni ranks back in the summer; Cavett and Cross, earlier this month.

Cavett, who received a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, first enrolled in 1976 when Gerald Ford was president. Along the way, life happened and he went on to start a family and a career without completing his studies.

Purchasing agent for a Mississippi state agency, Cavett credits wife Brenda and his employer for encouraging him to finish what he had started. “Balancing was tough because of competing demands, but I could take it with me when I traveled for work or otherwise,” he said recently.

Cross is a 2014 MSU geosciences/geography graduate who decided to pursue an online master’s after beginning a teaching career last year. He was able to complete the master of arts in teaching-secondary education curriculum and earn teaching certification while working fulltime as a sixth-grade science instructor.

Because his first degree was not a fit for his chosen field, Cross said the online program gave him the opportunity to make a course correction without having to start over. “I didn’t have to put anything on hold to earn my degree online from MSU,” he explained.

In praising the educational experience provided by the Center for Distance Education, Pepin emphasized that MSU’s international name-recognition played a role in his commitment to the online program.

“It was an easy transition with help from the coordinators,” Pepin said. “It was mostly a business decision and everything else was just a bonus,”

Pepin also observed that “a degree from Mississippi State means I am part of something instead of just getting a piece of paper.”

From offices in Memorial Hall, the center offers four bachelor’s, 23 master’s and seven doctoral degrees. For more information, visit

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