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December Graduate Took Full Advantage of Campus Life Opportunities Following Transfer to ODU

Having to transfer to in-state Old Dominion University for financial reasons ended up being the best "bad news" Diane Dougherty ever received.

Dougherty was attending East Carolina University before transferring to ODU in September 2009. Survivor military benefits (her father, an Air Force pilot, died when Dougherty was just 9 months old) paid part of her school costs. However, because of military rules, Dougherty wasn't eligible to use GI Bill benefits her mother received as a retired Air Force colonel herself.

"Between me at East Carolina and my brother at Syracuse, we couldn't afford it as a family. I had to move back in state," said Dougherty, who was born on the Langley Air Force Base and grew up in Northern Virginia.

While the transfer connected her to her family's military history, the life change also acted as an invitation for Dougherty to get involved in campus life.

"When I was at East Carolina, I wasn't involved in anything. I did the Relay for Life once in two years. I came here and got involved in the Mace, and that really helped me connect to the school," she said. Starting as a reporter, Dougherty worked her way through a number of masthead positions at the Mace & Crown, the student newspaper, and has spent the past six months as editor-in-chief.

"It's been a great experience. Working for the campus newspaper makes you look at a campus a whole different way," she said. "I went full-throttle. I wanted to do something with my life that wasn't just being a young college student."

Dougherty was also a member of the ODU chapter of Sigma Alpha Lambda, a national leadership and honors organization, and served as secretary of Monarch Media, a student organization for those with an interest in communication. She was one of the student volunteers who participated in the Homecoming Project, an effort to chronicle a day in the life of the ODU campus earlier this fall. Additionally, she volunteered for a number of charity drives and causes through the Mace & Crown.

Dougherty said she has seen tremendous changes on campus in the 2 1/2 years she's been at ODU. "My first semester was the first semester the Student Recreation Center was even open. I'm so glad I came when I did."

The graduate in communication, who will receive a bachelor's degree at Saturday's 115th commencement exercises, has a GPA of 3.5 in her major. After graduation, she will stay in the area and hopes to land a job in the publishing industry.

Returning to Hampton Roads has meant that Dougherty is learning about her family's connection to the area, largely formed through the military. "My mom will come and visit and say things like, 'Oh, your dad was stationed there,'" she said.

Dougherty said her mother, who now lives at the Outer Banks, has encouraged her to pursue a public relations career with the Air Force. While the large military presence at ODU is something that made Dougherty very comfortable, she's holding off on exploring that career path, for now.

"When I was younger, it seemed like everyone in my family was involved in the military in some way - my parents, my grandfather, aunts and uncles. I wanted to go a different route. But with this economy, I'm glad I have it as an option."

This article was posted on: December 15, 2011

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