Claflin University Graduates First Class of Online Students

May 07, 2016
Arianna Epperson Claflin StudentArianna Epperson will travel more than 2,600 miles from Oakland, California to Orangeburg, S.C. to be among 422 graduates who will receive degrees at Claflin’s 146th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, 11 a.m. at the South Atlantic Seventh-day Adventist Worship and Conference Center, 514 Neeses Highway in Orangeburg, S.C. 

Epperson, 22, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice. However, she never had to leave her Oakland home, thanks to Claflin’s online degree program. On Saturday, Epperson will join five other students who will be the first graduates of Claflin’s two-year old online degree programs in organizational management and criminal justice. All classes are 100 percent online and Claflin currently is the only historically black college or university in South Carolina to offer online degree programs.  Other online degree programs at the university include the master’s of business administration degree and the master’s in education degree.

For students such as Epperson, the online program has been a blessing. Epperson completed three years at Claflin before an unplanned pregnancy caused her to return home a year before graduation. Rather than being deterred by the birth of her daughter, Riley, Epperson said she used it as motivation to complete her degree.

“I really wanted to return to school and after talking to my (former) adviser, I decided to join the online program,” said Epperson.  Although she was a sociology major while physically attending Claflin, Epperson switched to criminal justice as an online student.

"The move proved advantageous, based on the ease and pace of Claflin’s online program and the similarities in criminal justice and sociology coursework," said Epperson.

Dr. Cindye T. Richburg, executive director of Professional and Continuing Studies at Claflin, said "the university seeks to meet all the needs of its online students by allowing them to register for courses, complete course assignments and pay tuition online." "Faculty who teach online courses have completed training and received certification," she said, and "tutors are available for students who may need assistance."

The student-focused environment, for which Claflin has gained a reputation, also extends to its online program. Indeed, Epperson said that she "became attracted to Claflin while still in high school because of the access students have to a world-class faculty and intimate class sizes.”

“I had heard about Claflin’s accomplishments from my cousin, and I was accustomed to a small high school,” she said. “And the recruiter from the admissions office gave a detailed presentation about the academic programs and career opportunities after graduation,” she said.

Epperson said that she will "enthusiastically recommend Claflin’s online program to others based on the attention and care students are provided. The online class experience at Claflin provided a virtual sense of community, including both knowledge and support from faculty and staff."

As for being among the university’s first online cohort of graduates, Epperson says she is “excited to have successfully completed her studies and be one of the first online program graduates.”

Tcheno Snell at ClaflinTcheno Snell, a sociology/criminal justice administration major who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is also excited to be one of the online program’s first graduates.

Snell, 43, enrolled in the online degree program two years ago, seeking to finish his college education after a nearly 25-year lapse. Snell admits that when he went to college after graduating from high school, he did not take his studies seriously and ended up dropping out. After working in the construction industry for several years, he eventually began working in law enforcement, and currently is a detention officer with the Mecklenburg, (N.C.) County Sheriff’s Office.

Claflin’s flexible class schedule allowed Snell to successfully complete the online degree program without spending time away for work or his wife and 14-year-old son.

“I plan to stay in law enforcement and use my degree to move up in the ranks,” said Snell, whose mother is Carolyn Snell, Claflin’s director for career placement.  “I highly recommend Claflin’s online program to anyone who wants to advance in their career and further their education.”

According to Claflin provost Karl Wright, offering online education is consistent with Claflin's goal of providing student-centered leaning experiences that prepare our graduates to enter the workforce

"We are focused on the success of all students, regardless of where, when and how they access our widely-respected faculty, and nationally-recognized academic programs,” Wright said.

For more information about Claflin Online Education or the Center for Professional and Continuing Studies call (803) 535-5573 or visit

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