Melanie Mueller said she worked 90 hours a week, volunteered in her community and took care of her two daughters all while earning her bachelor’s degree online from the State University of New York at Canton.
The tight schedule and lack of sleep paid off, Mueller said. The 39-year-old single mother was selected as the 2014 recipient of SUNY Canton’s Outstanding Graduate Award.
The honor is SUNY Canton’s top award given to one baccalaureate graduate and one associate graduate who display academic achievement, community service and campus involvement.
Mueller received her award at the David V. Guccione Honors Convocation on April 23 and will be honored again at her graduation ceremony on Saturday. The award was a surprise, she said.
“I was floored,” Mueller said. “I never thought I’d receive this award. I was also surprised to learn that I received the most recommendations for the award from my peers and instructors.”
Mueller will graduate this weekend with a Law Enforcement Leadership degree, which she earned completely online. This is her first degree, she said.
Online classes allowed Mueller to be with her daughters, Emma and Angelina, work two jobs and volunteer in her community while earning her degree, she said. She never would have been able to attend college without online programming, Mueller said.
“I’m a big advocate for online learning now,” Mueller said. “As a single mom, there were times I needed to get up to do laundry, feed the kids or change a diaper. And then I still had to take care of my home and do homework.”
Mueller’s 5-year-old and 8-year-old daughters had to be flexible as well, Mueller said, and they were understanding when their mom had to complete an online assignment. She couldn’t have done it without them, Mueller said.