LOWELL — Some UMass Lowell students crossed campus to attend graduation this May. Others traveled 7,000 miles.
This year, more than three dozen Japanese students who completed online courses flew to campus for commencement — the largest group yet to make the trip.
They participated in a UMass partner program with Abitus, a Tokyo-based executive education firm. The partnership has enrolled over 500 people since it launched in 2012. This year, nearly 150 students participated.
One, a mother named Tomoe Yoshida, completed her master's degree in business association while working as a communications manager and raising a family.
"It was great for me, as I could not study during the day and had to study while my child was sleeping. I needed a situation where I could think carefully and give my opinion to classmates regardless of the time of day. UMass Lowell gave me that opportunity by providing online courses," Yoshida said in a news release.
During the first six months of the program, Saturdays are spent in foundation classes in Tokyo, where Japanese professors teach UMass Lowell's curriculum. The remainder of the program consists of online courses with Manning School instructors.
Some of the Abitus students who made the trek to UMass for graduation toured the Pulichino Tong Business Center and met their professors for the first time.
"Thanks to my family supporting me, I was able to take on this big challenge. When I started the program, my dream was to take my family to attend the graduation ceremony together and that dream came true," Yoshida said in the news release.