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By Kathryn Shpak, Storyteller 1

When joining Post University as online students, neither Rizza Sabinay or Michelle Owenby expected to be traveling 1,000 miles to visit a classmate. They may have begun as “study buddies,” but their relationship quickly became one of very close friends.

In August 2017, these two women began their journeys to achieve their online degree at Post University. After a couple terms, Sabinay and Owenby were in the same course and met though the Blackboard discussion forums.  They connected through their responses and began exchanging contact info – officially becoming study buddies. Both students are studying criminal justice and often take courses together.  Sabinay is going for her associate degree while Owenby pursues her bachelor’s degree.

Sabinay shared that it was easy to connect because they had so many similarities – both are close in age as are their children. Because they share educational goals while having a similar lifestyle outside of school, their study group developed quickly into a friendship.

“Michelle is someone who I can be comfortable talking about anything to. Although she’s in a different state, our friendship has no limit. I know in my heart she is one of a kind, and I can relate to her in many ways. Study buddies became family,” said Sabinay.

They would stay up studying together until 2 a.m. while also talking about life and getting to know each other.

“I’m really glad we made the connection. Rizza has been the best friend and family I could ever ask for. I truly feel like a lucky person to have met her and her family,” said Owenby.

Owenby and Sabinay had been planning to meet up for a while, and finally got the chance this summer. Sabinay had some family in Missouri about five hours away from where Owenby lived. They wound up meeting up and their families got to spend a couple days together. They swam, camped, went to the park, and played tricks on their “kiddos.”   

“Our children connected so well; it was like they grew up together,” said Sabinay. It was an emotional time for everyone having to leave, but as they both said, “It wasn’t a goodbye, but more like a see you later.”

This beautiful friendship formed among two online students. They became each other’s’ support group through their schooling and through life. These two students are a prime example of the type of community that can be built through an online program.

“Just because you take classes online doesn’t mean you have to be distant from you classmates,” said Sabinay. “I don’t think I can go a day without talking to Michelle, because it is more than just about studying – it’s about friendship.”

Though it wasn’t easy to meet up, they made it happen. Their families connected and they had an amazing time. Because their families enjoyed it just as much as they did, Owenby is hoping to travel to Virginia next summer where Sabinay promises her children to take them to see the beach for the first time.

While Post has a full support system provided to each student, nothing can quite compare to creating a friendship with someone who has the same course material as you and may be sharing similar struggles. There are various means by which students can connect online, whether it be in classes, through Facebook, or on the soon to be released Post App.

All students should seek out a “study buddy,” or better yet, a friend.