14:36 PM

Flexible Math Program Adds Up for Dana Petersen

Math can be rigid. There is only one correct answer. However, it was the flexibility offered by a degree in Mathematics – the one offered through Bellevue University in particular – that attracted Dana Petersen. With a two-year old son, Zeppelin at home, flexibility was of the utmost importance.

“Being able to balance work with school and family through the online program was a big seller for me and it worked out really, really well,” he said.

Petersen liked the flexibility that the degree would offer him in the marketplace, as well.

“Math has always been my strongest subject ever since I was a little kid. It was easier for me to do math than write papers or anything like that,” he said. “There’s always a demand for math-intensive jobs. That just really appealed to me.”

An Air Force brat, Petersen graduated from Cheyenne Central High School in 2008 and enrolled in Laramie County Community College shortly thereafter. After earning his associate degree in theater, he transferred to Colorado State, but was looking for a little more of a small town feel to finish his bachelor’s degree. His father, Jason, had recently retired from the Air Force while stationed at Offutt Air Force Base, just south of the Bellevue University campus, and touted the virtues of the school just up the road to his son.

“He let me know that they were super popular with the Air Force for easily transferring credits and online access to school,” Petersen said.

Once enrolled in the program, Petersen found it suited him and praised the efforts of Professor Kimberly Brehm. Her use of the collaboration software Microsoft Teams facilitated discussion, he said.

“That was really refreshing, especially when communicating with other classmates. It made it so much easier,” Petersen said. “Professor Brehm was very approachable. She presented material in a way that was easy to pick up on and apply.”

Brehm was able to observe first-hand the balancing act that Petersen was able to pull off.

“Dana is an excellent student and I enjoyed having him in class. I even got to meet Zeppelin through Skype on more than one occasion!” she said. “Dana did a great job of balancing being a great student with being a great father and employee. The flexibility the program allows makes getting a math degree more attainable, especially when school isn’t the only thing on your plate.”

Petersen, 30, finished up his degree requirements in March 2019 and hopes to land a job in business analytics of one kind or another. Petersen is the first person to complete the revamped Mathematics program since it’s resurrection in 2017. That makes him the first person to earn a degree in Mathematics at Bellevue University since January of 2003.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics listed the median pay for a Financial Analyst in 2018 at $85,660 and projected that the field will grow at a faster than average pace over the next 10 years.

“Earning my degree is really just about breaking boundaries and wanting change,” he said. “The toughest part of it was getting out of my comfort zone and asking more of myself.”

His son, Zeppelin, is a source of constant change as well as motivation, while fiancé Laramie Clough has been a source of support for his academic and career endeavors.

“My family and friends have all been extremely supportive of all of my efforts,” Petersen said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.”