OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU grad makes history by earning five degrees

06/06/2003

CORVALLIS - While wrapping up his bachelor's of science degrees and completing Oregon State University's Air Force ROTC program, graduating senior Casey McCoy had an inkling that his college life was a bit fuller than the average student.

But it wasn't until the final days of spring term this year that McCoy went to the campus registrar's office and was officially informed that he's the first student in OSU history to earn five undergraduate degrees from the Corvallis campus.

McCoy ticks off the degrees he's slated to pick-up at OSU's commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 15: physics, electrical and electronics engineering; computer engineering; computer science; and engineering physics.

One small detail: All five degrees were awarded with the academic distinction of magna cum laude.

McCoy is fairly low-key about the fuss. He admits he considered skipping the formal commencement ceremony until friends and family convinced him to step forward and accept the degrees.

He grew up as one of three brothers in a logging family near Junction City. His older brother graduated from OSU in 2001 with degrees in civil and forest engineering, while his younger brother is an OSU junior in forestry.

McCoy went through his teen years leading a typical small town life, playing baseball, basketball and football at Elmira High School before graduating and heading off for OSU in 1998.

"I grew up knowing I'd go to college. I just wasn't sure what field I wanted to study," he said.

"I decided I wanted to be in electrical engineering at OSU," and at the same time, McCoy decided to join the campus Air Force ROTC unit, which promised to provide a good education and an excellent future for students who complete cadet training.

"ROTC's a good program and attracts a lot of quality people."

The decision to pursue five degrees was more of a natural progression than a stated goal, McCoy said. As he looked over degree requirements for electrical and electronics engineering he realized that with only a few more classes he could earn a degree in computer engineering. A few more class credits would then lead to a degree in computer science.

By the time McCoy was done "adding a few more classes," he was well on his way to making OSU history.

He admits that it all ended up consuming a bit of his life, but the experience and the learning gained through ROTC and the degree programs were all well worth the extra effort, he said.

"A good education is one of the most valuable things that a person can have. Now, for most students I wouldn't recommend that they follow in my footsteps. They can get just as good a job and have just as good a future with one college degree, but for me it worked."

The next several years of his future are all worked out. In addition to graduating magna cum laude with five college degrees, McCoy is also graduating with a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and will soon head to work at an Air Force research lab in New Mexico.

In the meantime, he's already thinking about pursuing another college degree at a yet-to-be-determined graduate school.