By: Cherise Shockley, ASU Online mass communication and media studies student and brand ambassador
What is an online community? It takes many forms— stories, social media posts or podcasts shared from around the world, created by people who join together to talk about anything from a medical condition to cars to running to online education. A friend of mine described online communities as "places where strangers become friends." I am going to use his line here because, to me, it's the best way to describe them.
Since 2008, I have actively participated in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC), and I began participating in the ASU Online Sun Devils Connect community on Facebook in June 2017.
To be perfectly honest, my life as a diabetic and as an ASU Online student is better because of the psychosocial support I receive from the DOC and the Sun Devils Connect community on Facebook.
My previous school was entirely about message boards, completing assignments and checking grades. I did not have the opportunity to connect with my peers. ASU Online completely changed that. When I started, I received an email from my Success Coach about Sun Devils Connect on Facebook, and through that unique community, I was able to find my people.
From the outside looking in, you would never know that there are stories of men and women with families who decided to start or finish their degrees online. You would never know that there are people over the age of 50 who returned to college to pursue their passions. And that there are military men and women who are on active duty while spending their free time finishing their degrees. And that there are Starbucks Partners who take advantage of the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. The stories are about people overcoming obstacles in life to complete their degree by any means necessary, and they are uplifting and motivational. When I feel like I can't, they tell me I can.
Perhaps the most fantastic thing about the Sun Devils Connect community is how we rally together to help each other reach our shared goal: to graduate from ASU. Together we go through the trials and tribulations, the good and bad. We’re all going through the same experiences, submitting papers at all hours of the night, sometimes two minutes before they’re due, while being parents, full-time employees, and members of the military. The Sun Devils Connect community helped me through tough times and taught me about different teachers and classes; they’ve been my support system when I needed it most.
If you have not joined Sun Devils Connect on Facebook, I highly recommend that you do. Here is another great example of why you should connect with others: Fall semester has been challenging for me. I miss spending time with my family, and they miss me too. I needed someone to talk to, but my husband was asleep. I decided to share how I was feeling with the Sun Devils Connect community. When I did, the most amazing thing happened: I received a ton of support and words of encouragement that I needed to help me push through. It was exactly what I needed to hear, and I’m so grateful.
The Sun Devils Connect community makes me feel as if I am sitting in a classroom on campus or hanging at a dining hall with my peers. It confirmed that I am not alone on this journey, and just like the Diabetes Online Community, I have peer support 24/7/365, without judgment. Be like the 1.8k+ online students and participate in ASU Online’s most supportive student group: Sun Devils Connect. I promise you will be welcomed with open arms.