Graduates from 10 colleges of the Fort Riley Education Services Consortium gathered Thursday afternoon, May 24, to celebrate the end of a chapter in their educational journeys. Despite the spacious venue, a large conference center ballroom at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manhattan, it was standing room only.
Barton Community College at Fort Riley celebrated the graduation of 146 students.
Barton graduate Shantele Frie was the very first to complete the college’s Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) program, which started only a year ago. She managed to complete the 64-credit hour associate degree program in 12 months by transferring credits and taking a full course load for each of Barton’s five sessions, each lasting eight weeks.
Her efforts earned her the honor of being named one of two Outstanding Graduates by Barton faculty and staff.
“She completed this degree in one year, which is fantastic and very impressive,” said Carol Nichols, OSH program support specialist. “Shantele is our first completer, and I’m excited.”
Frie has chosen a lucrative and stable career path with high demand for skilled professionals. According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2017 median pay for a safety specialist was $71,780 and safety technicians earned a median of $49,960. The estimated growth rate for the industry in the next decade is eight percent.
“Almost all big companies have a safety program and OSH experts to keep the company out of hot water,” Nichols said.
While the degree would allow Frie to settle down virtually anywhere, she has a specific end game in mind.
Her next step is to transfer to the University of Kansas and earn a degree in chemical engineering with a minor in environmental studies.
Barton also held an Honors Ceremony for students in the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Fraternity on Wednesday prior to commencement, which recognizes non-traditional students who maintain a 3.5 GPA and have completed at least 24 credit-hours. The fraternity celebrates the many challenges faced by non-traditional students, who have to juggle family, work and school to achieve their educational goals.
Barton also honored members of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, which recognizes students who carry a 3.5 GPA and are enrolled in at least 12 credit-hours.