ODUOnline graduates Alfredo and Molly Pargas with their children

Navy husband and wife Alfredo and Molly Pargas found their own individual ways to pursue teaching degrees at Old Dominion University, but their ambitions are the same. Molly graduated in December 2012 and Alfredo is scheduled to graduate this fall, both from the master’s program in elementary education, and both are interested in teaching kindergarten or first grade.

Prior to joining the Navy, Alfredo was a kindergarten teacher’s aide. He says he loved working with the kids and feeling that he was making a real difference in their development. Taking a day off from her work as a paralegal, Molly visited Alfredo’s classroom. “I was enchanted with the positive atmosphere, and loved seeing the progress the kids were making, even in one day.” That day set the couple firmly on the road to teaching careers.

Molly describes herself as a definite multitasker. “Taking care of two very active little boys during the day, meeting family commitments, and doing homework several hours a night was how I have spent the last couple of years. However, both Freddy and I firmly believe that if there is a will, there is a way. It is all about managing your time and believing that you can do it. It was tough, especially when Freddy was deployed during my student teaching, but the ultimate reward was stepping into that classroom fully prepared to build relationships and being ready to use the tools I learned from Old Dominion's distance learning program. I also cannot say enough about the level of assistance I received from Florence Hayes-Addison, our ODU/Little Creek site director. She provided sound advice and helped us every step of the way.”

The couple’s experiences show the variety of ways distance learning can serve military students and families. Molly has taken classes on the main ODU campus, online and videostreamed to her ODU Distance Learning site at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. Alfredo will complete his master’s entirely online, progressing through coursework during deployments to Africa and South America with his Navy Special Warfare Group.

“It was difficult taking classes overseas in different countries, but distance learning and the Internet made it easier,” he says. “I was able to videostream courses or access Blackboard to complete my classes via the Internet. I’m very proud of Molly, who started the master’s program the same time I did and who has earned her degree. Molly helped motivate me to work toward completing a master’s degree while still in the Navy. I did not think it was possible with my schedule because I am gone 75 percent of the time. But by the time I get out of the Navy, I will only have to student-teach. I am very proud of the amount of classes that I have completed at ODU.”

The Pargas family resides in Norfolk and also includes sons, Alexander and Anthony.

This article originally appeared in Monarch Magazine. By Tammy Dodson and William Gideon.