World-traveling consultant finds opportunity online and abroad taking classes from UND on his way to an economics degree
Adrian Troyer is seemingly always on the move.
Through the University of North Dakota’s online master’s program, Troyer is soon to graduate with a degree in Applied Economics, which he has worked on from France, Sudan and Northern Africa, as well as right here in the United States.
Troyer, 38, knew he was interested in economics, justice and development work on an international level.
“I knew I wanted to work on a master’s that would be useful for partnering with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and/or businesses that are doing development work internationally,” said Troyer, who, in recent months has been spending time in Southern France and Algeria in North Africa. “I had no way of doing a program except online because I was living in Sudan at the time.”
After searching for different programs, he found UND best suited his needs. He is currently in the final stages of completing his degree, but he already has experience in private consulting work as well as management of faith-based development projects abroad.
His range of work includes establishing foreign language development programs, treatment and health education for malnourished children and mothers, upgrading emergency services, raising exercise awareness for diabetes prevention and establishing job creation programs. He and his wife are currently involved in projects in Central Asia, North Africa and the United States.
“I’m considering several opportunities related to research, teaching and/or business for development in the North African region,” Troyer said. “That means a move into a full-time economics focus in 2016.”
With regard to staying on track in classes, Troyer found the human interaction component difficult to replicate from a distance.
“The challenges were mostly related to minimal human interaction. Living across time zones and communicating via email or webcam isn’t always the most conducive means of getting help quickly or easily collaborating with other students,” Troyer said.
On the other side, Troyer appreciated the effort from faculty and the program at large.
“The professors are very involved and responsive,” he said. “The program works hard to consider your distance-learning needs. (The degree) is very doable as long as you are persistent and ask questions to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing and how things can work best for you.”
In three and a half years, Troyer was able to piece together five missing prerequisite courses and the majority of his 32-credit Applied Economics coursework – something he predicts could take half the time, if not for his schedule and his level of accessibility.
“My favorite moment was sitting in my courtyard in the pitch black of a power cut, under the stars of the 100-degree Sudanese desert, trying to get a signal from my USB internet stick so I could get an assignment through for the next day,” Troyer said. “It was almost always a successful endeavor and a testament to the flexibility of working with such a well-organized online program.”
Troyer appreciated the ease of use with online resources such as “Blackboard,” and had little issue with the proctored exams, despite his location.
“Generally,” he said, “I would say it’s set up about as well as it can be.”
Aside from all he has worked on and accomplished abroad, Troyer loves entertaining his two adopted Ethiopian daughters, exercising, watching films with his wife and “tinkering with sports analytics.”
Connor Murphy UND Office of Extended Learning student writer