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Life Behind the Camera: A Behind the Scenes Look at One Reporter’s Path Towards a Master’s Degree

Feature Story
Posted on Oct, 31 2012

While interviewing Minnesota’s top athletes on a daily basis might be the life goal of many, for one TV reporter there was still one more goal that needed to be completed: a master’s degree. If you are a sports fan living in North Dakota and Minnesota, you have probably heard the name Marney Gellner before. Since 2002, Gellner has worked as a TV reporter with Fox Sports North based out of the Twin Cities. Her job has allowed her the opportunity to have front row seats while covering a variety of sports teams including the Vikings, the Twins, and the Timberwolves.


While life in front of the camera had offered her many amazing opportunities, Gellner always had the off camera goal of earning a graduate degree.  “My job requires me to work a lot of odd hours and I wanted options for the future if I ever decide to live a ‘normal’ life,” states Gellner. “Getting my master’s would help me do that.”


When Gellner decided to go back to school she looked for programs that not only offered graduate degrees in communication, but also a degree program that could be taken online. “As a TV reporter, my work schedule is all over the board. Sometimes I’m working mornings, sometimes evenings or weekends depending on the season. An online master’s program was perfect for me because I could go at my own pace and on my own time,” Gellner notes.


While she knew there were program options throughout the country, NDSU’s online Master’s in Mass Communication degree through the Distance and Continuing Education (DCE) office was where Gellner enrolled. Growing up in Minot, North Dakota and having family that currently lives in Fargo, North Dakota, she felt like NDSU was the right choice because she could identify with the people in the area. “NDSU felt more comfortable to me than doing a program somewhere else across the country because I’m familiar with Fargo. It was the perfect fit.”


While it has been challenging balancing a busy career, family, and school, Gellner has been able to steadily take one class per semester, only taking off two semesters to have each of her two children. “That is part of the beauty of taking classes online,” reflects Gellner, “I’ve been able to go at my own pace and be flexible.”


One of the biggest initial challenges for Gellner was the amount of time she had been out of school before deciding to complete a master’s degree. “PowerPoint did not exist when I was in college,” she says, “school has changed dramatically.”


However, Gellner notes she never felt like she was alone in the process. Even though she was taking online courses through distance learning, Gellner is always able to get emails answered and phone calls returned by professors in a timely manner. “I don’t feel like I am nameless and faceless,” she states. “The instructors have been very willing to walk me through things and give me pointers and advice when I need it.”


 Gellner is projected to graduate in December 2012 and could not be more thrilled. “It has been challenging and busy,” she says, “but most of all, it has been rewarding.”


For more information about online degree programs offered through NDSU Distance and Continuing Education, please visit the NDSU DCE online degrees webpage.