Amy Teetzen of Greenwood was running out of time to realize her dream of earning a college degree.

She was frustrated by what she describes as "rigid schedules" at colleges and universities she had attended in the past.

Married for three years with plans to soon move to Dallas, Texas, with her husband and begin a family, Teetzen was beginning to think she would have to wait until after she raised her children to complete her baccalaureate degree.

A life-changing suggestion from her great aunt, Arkansas Tech University alumna Jane Stewart Ware, put Teetzen on track to earn her Bachelor of Professional Studies degree from Arkansas Tech via the institution’s online Accelerated Degree Program.

"I had started to look at other options," said Teetzen. "My great aunt graduated from Arkansas Tech when it was a two-year college. Her three kids all went here. They strongly advised me to look into Arkansas Tech."

Accompanied by her parents, Teetzen participated in commencement ceremonies at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Saturday afternoon. It was her first visit to the Arkansas Tech campus.

Teetzen arrived early to drive around and view the physical presence of the university that was about to become her alma mater.

She was especially excited about her first face-to-face meeting with the faculty member who had steered her from an initial phone call about the Accelerated Degree Program to graduation — Dr. Beth Giroir, assistant professor in the Arkansas Tech College of Professional Studies and Community Outreach.

"(Giroir) spoke to me for an hour on the phone before I even applied," said Teetzen, who specialized in early childhood education in her Bachelor of Professional Studies degree program. "She asked me about all of the classes I had taken in the past. Faculty members at other colleges wouldn’t even talk to me until I had applied and been accepted. Dr. Giroir has always been very available to help. She has even responded to my questions on Sundays."

Teetzen said that all of her previous college credits were eligible to transfer into the Arkansas Tech Bachelor of Professional Studies program. She cited eight-week courses, the availability of summer courses and academic advising via telephone and e-mail as major factors in allowing her to complete her degree.

"I was able to finish my degree at Arkansas Tech two years earlier than I would have elsewhere," said Teetzen.

But it wasn’t just the efficiency that impressed Teetzen. She also found her academic experience at Arkansas Tech to be enriching because of the nature of the curriculum.

"I think I became better friends with my classmates because we had to participate in the discussions," said Teetzen. "We were able to really get to know each other. I don’t feel like I missed out by taking my classes online. I was able to learn more about the field I am interested in because we had realistic, hands-on exercises."

Teetzen has already encouraged two of her friends to enroll in the Arkansas Tech Accelerated Degree Program.

She plans on pursuing a master’s degree in library science once she becomes settled in Dallas.

As for her Arkansas Tech experience, Teetzen has one regret — "I wish I would have come here earlier."