Carla VanHorn received her bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University in 2011 and then moved to Hawaii when her husband, Michael, joined the Army. After a few years in Hawaii and Maryland, Carla returned to campus this weekend to graduate again, this time with her master's degree.
Carla, a native of Lapeer, and Michael, a native of Houghton Lake and graduate of Ferris State University, met on CMU's campus in 2009. After serving in Afghanistan, Michael returned to the base in Hawaii and began his pursuit of a Master of Science in Administration degree through CMU's Global Campus. He soon encouraged Carla to join him in the educational journey.
"Being able to pursue a CMU program in Hawaii was great. It was something familiar," said Carla. "It was like I had a piece of home there."
Michael was transferred to Fort Meade in Maryland halfway through the couple's M.S.A. program, but that didn't stop them from finishing their degrees.
Although not all of the classes they needed were offered at Fort Meade, they had resources in the area to keep them moving.
"We were able to take classes not only at Fort Meade, but also at Alexandria and Henderson," said Michael. "All of the classes we needed were offered within an hour of where we lived."
Although it wasn't Mount Pleasant, Carla felt like she was still very much a part of CMU.
"It didn't feel like it was an off-campus program, it felt like I was at a brick-and-mortar institution," she said. "There was CMU stuff all over; I didn't feel disconnected at all."
As far as pursuing their degree together, it had its bumps, but the two encouraged each other throughout the process.
"Doing it together was awesome. We could help each other out and bounce ideas off of each other," said Michael. "We had our burnout times but kept telling each other how proud we are of each other."
Michael and Carla also will walk in a graduation ceremony on their base in Maryland next spring.