Lt. Col Mary E. Nordgulen

Lt. Col Mary E. Nordgulen, aged 65, recently completed our non-thesis Master’s Program in Entomology and Nematology, achieving both a non-thesis MS degree and a certificate in Medical Entomology. Before enrolling in the Entomology and Nematology Program at the University of Florida, she dedicated 28 years to the United States Military. During this period, she obtained her initial Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from West Florida University which enabled a promotion from Captain to Major due to her educational achievements.

Following her years of military service, and service during Operational Iraqi Freedom II, Mary sought a change in her life. She made use of her GI Bill benefits to provide financial assistance for her pursuit of a non-thesis MS degree with a specialization in Medical Entomology within the Entomology and Nematology department. Even though she relocated to North Carolina as the program commenced, she discovered that the online format offered the adaptability required to sustain her studies while navigating various life obstacles.

Regarding the program’s format, she remarked, “The online flexibility most definitely helped. Throughout my program, I experienced significant personal events such as family losses, a relocation to North Carolina, and the purchase and renovation of a house. I even had to take two semesters off but was able to complete the program due to its flexibility.”

During her tenure in the department, Mary conducted her capstone research under the guidance of Drs. Derrick Mathias and Burkett-Cadena. She credited these professors as key contributors to her success, saying, “Both Dr. Mathias and Dr. Nathan Burkett-Cadena were incredible. They took the time to provide one-on-one support and work through any challenges I encountered. They were so personable, and I am just so grateful for their assistance.”

After graduating, Ms. Nordgulen assumed the role of a Teaching Assistant for the Medical Entomology course at Western Carolina University, working under Dr. Brian Byrd. Her expertise and knowledge are invaluable in her work in the insectary at the university.  

When asked about her most significant takeaway from the program, especially considering her abundant and rich life experiences, Mary emphasized that the program “reignited her sense of purpose.”

Reflecting on her experiences, she said, “I frequently share my positive experiences with the online program and the kindness of the instructors, who treated me with respect and without any signs of discrimination. People’s actions in that department truly renewed my faith in human nature,” Ms. Mary Nordgulen concluded.

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