News Release

Online Student Pursues her Academic Journey from the Philippines to Minnesota

By Amber Johnson on
Monday, June 29, 2020

Rebecca Cowles is an online major in business quality management who currently lives in Farmington, Minnesota. Cowles is originally from Bohol, Philippines and she has pursued her academic journey all the way to the University of Minnesota Crookston. Rebecca Cowles

Cowles grew up as a farm girl on a small farm in one of the islands in the Philippines called Bohol. Her parents are Primitiva and Andres, and she has a brother named Reymond. Cowles appreciates all of the sacrifices her parents made to make their lives easier especially when she and her brother went to college. 

“My parents support us all the way from kindergarten to college, sometimes they had to borrow money just so we could finish school. When we were in college, our parents did not want us to work unless it was a summer job because they wanted us to focus on our schooling,” explained Cowles. 

After college, Cowles and her brother went in different directions. Reymond is now a very successful mariner, and he also is working in his career to become a captain someday. Cowles moved to Cebu, Philippines to work for a microelectronics company as an assembly operator. Cowles worked there for 3 years and was very sad to see that the company ended up closing and moving to a different location. 

Cowles met her husband while she was living in the Philippines. Rebecca and Justin have been married since June 2009. 

“When we were very slow at work, I had more time to go to an internet café close to my boarding house, and through the internet chatting, that’s when I met my husband Justin. He went to the Philippines for a vacation after he got out in the US Army. We chatted for about a month, and that was the start of our journey together. After a year or two, he decided to bring me to the United States to settle down and have a family, and we have been living here for about almost 9 years. I can say it has been an amazing road of experiences from one place to another,” remarked Cowles. 

Cowles’s academic journey has been filled with challenges, but she has worked to maintain the mindset that the journey always has a destination that all depends on when a person stops and settles with what they have.

“When I graduated kindergarten, I really want to become a teacher, and over the school years and as I get older, that goal changed. I graduated as an honor roll student when I was in elementary (Santo Nino Elementary School, Philippines). When I started high school, I went to an agricultural school (Talibon Agricultural High School and now called Sikatuna National Agricultural High School, Philippines) because of where our place is located (countryside part of the Philippines). I graduated in high school as a salutatorian,” explained Cowles.

Cowles graduated high school with a great average grade and as a salutatorian. When she decided to go to college, she got offers for scholarships through the government and through the school. In order to keep her scholarships, Cowles had to maintain her high grades.

“I graduated in a computer School (AMA Computer College, Philippines) with an Associate in Computer Systems Design and Programming. It’s been so many years since then, and now I decided to go back to college and I’m hoping to finish my Bachelor’s Degree,” stated Cowles.

Cowles made the choice to attend to the University of Minnesota Crookston online for many reasons. Not only did she find value in the fact that UMN Crookston offers the “Small Campus, Big Degree” atmosphere, she was also able to find the flexibility she needed. 

“When I was searching for colleges, I had called a few colleges that offered online classes and found that UMN Crookston fit all of my requirements to go back to school since I am a fulltime mom and employee. I had to choose a school that is closer to me and offers me the flexibility I need. Based on the reviews that I had read, I learned that the support that you get from this campus is amazing. That kind of support and mentoring is exactly what we all need as students,” stated Cowles. 

The decision to pursue a major in business quality management was driven by the convenience of the major being completely online, and the desire to continue working in the career area in which Cowles is already employed in. 

“What I do now at my work is titled 'Inspector Technician in the Quality Department.' I want to continue to pursue that path of my career. Also, the course is fully online, and that’s the only way I can go back to school in addition to all responsibilities I already have on hand,” explained Cowles. 

“This coming April of 2020, I will be celebrating my 3 years anniversary at my current job as an Inspector Technician in the quality department at Collins Aerospace in Burnsville, MN. I love what I do and I love the schedules at work. I can give a lot of time to my family. For a short period of time, I am now acting as a team lead of the inspectors and I am hoping that this title will be under my name very soon,” remarked Cowles. 

Cowles has always been a very motivated and determined person. She draws inspiration from her son, her husband, and her background of where she comes from. Her family always motivates her to soar higher and be as successful as possible. Cowles is proud of the fact that she is now able to help provide for her parents back home in the Philippines. She is able to support them and takes assurance in knowing that they don’t have to struggle anymore compared to when they were supporting her in school. 

Cowles has learned many valuable lessons that come from both her academic and life experiences. The most important things to remember according to Cowles, are to just be yourself and try to always think positively when things are not falling into places. Cowles noted that success always comes with challenges and struggles, and that hard work and dedication are one of the keys to becoming successful in life.

While studying at the University of Minnesota Crookston, Cowles has found many benefits in the online program. The flexibility of the classes, the ability to ask professors for help, and the option to organize her schedule to work around being a mom, an employee, a student, and a wife are all things Cowles appreciates, and she is proud to a part of the University of Minnesota Crookston.

About UMN Crookston

One of five campuses in the University of Minnesota System, the University of Minnesota Crookston cultivates curiosity by engaging students in hands-on learning connecting theory to practice. As the experienced leader in delivering education online, the Crookston campus offers a distinctive learning environment providing personal attention and mentorship to develop leaders, lifelong learners, and engaged citizens. Visit Crookston at umcrookston.edu 

About UMN

The University of Minnesota System, with campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester, and the Twin Cities, is driven by a singular vision of excellence. We are proud of our land-grant mission of world-class education, groundbreaking research, and community-engaged outreach, and we are unified in our drive to serve Minnesota. Learn more at system.umn.edu

Contact

Cassandra Morthera

University Relations 

218-281-8432

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