UCF Online Student Makes History

Bradley Caouette, ’16, wasn’t a typical University of Central Florida student. The political science graduate made history at UCF by being the first fully online student to graduate with an Honors in the Major degree, and with an award-winning thesis to top it off.

But that’s not the only reason he’s unique. While many students work their way through college, Caouette’s situation was somewhat different. The fall 2016 graduate doesn’t align with the average college student demographic.

“Married and not in the 18-25 age range, Bradley is a non-traditional student who found a good balance between work and school,” said his Honors in the Major Chair Aubrey Jewett, Ph.D. “He is a testament to what can be accomplished online when a student works hard and takes advantage of the opportunities that are offered at UCF.”

Caouette had a full-time job working as a legislative aide for the state legislature while earning his degree, so UCF’s online program was an ideal option for him. In addition to being an online student, he was part of the Honors in the Major (HIM) program, which is the oldest and most prestigious undergraduate research program at UCF. It’s designed to encourage the best juniors and seniors to undertake original and independent work in their major field.

Caouette fit the program’s criteria seamlessly according to his professor.

“He is exceptionally bright, hardworking and mature,” Jewett said. “He was one of the strongest students in each of the regular online classes he took from me.”

As a HIM student, Caouette wrote a thesis titled Regional Political Power in Florida showing that legislative influence is not significantly relevant to the amount of state dollars that a county receives.

Caouette, who hopes to teach in the future, is grateful to have completed the thesis as it may open more opportunities for him.

“My thesis work has allowed me to gain experience doing statistical research and writing an academic paper, while broadening my options for future career choices,” said Caouette.

Not only did Caouette’s thesis earn him valuable experience, but also university-wide recognition.

His thesis won the Honors in the Major Outstanding Thesis Award in the category of Social Sciences, Business, and Education. He will receive the award at the UCF Founders’ Day Convocation on April 5, 2017.

His professor is optimistic about Caouette’s future endeavors.

“Bradley will be a top notch employee who has refined his skills while getting his political science bachelor’s degree from UCF online,” said Jewett.

Caouette’s success proves that with hard work and opportunities, a degree is possible regardless of uncommon circumstances.

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