A degree many years in the making

More than 15 years after starting his bachelor’s degree, Jason Coby is graduating with a degree in environmental management in agriculture and natural resources (EMANR). Although Coby encountered a number of obstacles in his educational journey, UF Online provided a way for him to accomplish his goals and become a college graduate.

Coby and his family standing outside.
Jason Coby, an EMANR graduate, with his family.

Coby first set foot on campus at the University of Florida in 2005 on a pre-professional track. His goal was to eventually start a career as an environmental lawyer for the Environmental Protection Agency. For the next five years, Coby experienced a number of challenges related to mental health and substance abuse, and compounded by what he admits was his own lack of discipline. Ultimately, he made the decision to leave UF in 2010.

Following a nine-year hiatus from the university, Coby reconnected with his former advisors, including Susan Curry, senior lecturer in the UF/IFAS soil and water sciences department and Michael Sisk, soil and water sciences academic advisor. Curry remembered Coby and with additional support from his parents and family he was able to return to school.

“It’s taken a lot of people to help me get back to life,” Coby said, recognizing the struggles he has overcome since first starting his undergraduate experience. “I can’t thank my advisors enough. They didn’t give up on me. I wouldn’t be here without them.”

His advisors set up a course plan that would allow him to graduate within two years, but Coby’s life was no longer near the Gainesville campus. Fortunately, the EMANR degree is one of the majors available in UF Online. Coby also minored in agriculture and natural resource law.

“Relocating back to Gainesville really wasn’t an option,” Coby said. “But with UF Online, I have been able to finish what I started while also maintaining my family.”

Coby and his daughter outside at a park.
Coby loves spending time outside exploring nearby parks with his two-year-old daughter.

Coby needed a degree program that offered balance. His life as a student was in addition to a full-time job and being a dad to his 2-year-old daughter. The EMANR program through UF Online combined his love of exploring outdoors with his daughter and his interest in previous courses like agricultural risk management. Being an online student allowed Coby to manage his priorities, and the flexible schedule of an online student allowed him to stay ahead on his assignments.

“When I was on campus before, I was a big procrastinator,” Coby said. “Now I turn my assignments in early and email my teachers for any advice, critiques or pointers. I make sure I don’t get overwhelmed.” And since starting as a UF Online student, Coby has received 11 straight A grades in his courses.

Through his online classes, Coby has made connections with other UF students. In some of his courses, the students will create a group message where students can discuss class topics and ask questions.

“It doesn’t really feel like an online situation. It’s kind of like, if I was there [in Gainesville], I could sit in and I would see the same thing,” Coby said.

Living in Boca Raton, Florida, Coby feels the reach of Gator Nation. When he spends his Sundays visiting the sea turtle rescue and aquarium with his daughter, he looks forward to the “Go Gators spirit” among Gator fans as they discuss the football game and other events that week.

“It’s definitely a bond between people who went to UF,” Coby said. “We all have a connection.”

Now, Coby plans to take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) with plans to obtain a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Although Coby’s goals may have changed slightly since starting in 2005, he still hopes to find an environmentally-focused career. He has learned to take advantage of the opportunities placed in his life and make the most of most of these experiences.

“I am proud to be a Florida Gator. This is something I have worked for very long and very hard to get to,” Coby said. “I am forever grateful for the opportunity available through UF Online, because without it, I wouldn’t be a college graduate.”


Posted: December 15, 2021

Category: UF/IFAS Teaching
Tags: EMANR, Environmental Management In Agriculture And Natural Resources, Graduation, Soil And Water Sciences, Uf Online


December 15, 2021

Amazing job my friend! Your perseverance and success is inspiring.

Andrea Gallik
December 15, 2021

So very amazed by you Jason! You have made your family and UF so proud. Your story lights a path for others. May you continue leading the way with your perseverance and integrity!

Michele Dysna leconte
December 15, 2021

Congratulations!!! Very inspiring story, May continue to be a beacon of hope for other young men dealing with similar issues

Matt Parker
December 15, 2021

Congratulations Mr. Coby. 11 straight ‘A’s eh? Way to go. Now go forth and fix the environment. Your girls look good with the current graduate. Nicely done. Beautiful fam.

December 15, 2021

Thank you for helping my nephew Jason I know he wasn’t a quicker but is this song I know if it’s Roman it will make it I’m proud of him and I look I love you and we always be there to support you we love you we love you aunt to Mimi

Anne Menard
September 14, 2021

You can post my comments.

Anne Menard
September 14, 2021

What a wonderful learning opportunity for the college students & it helps with their future education & career planning. Thank you Tall Timbers.

December 22, 2020

Dear sir, Thank you for your post. I Love group study.

Samuel Sam
December 10, 2020

Dear sir, Thank you for your post. Group study is the main for all students life and we learn a lot of things

Susan Weller
November 1, 2020

Congratulations for rewards well earned. Keep up this very important research. We are dependent on the honey bees. Your work is helping educate us all. The use of DDT was stopped due to scientist like you. Please continue to develop more earth friendly solutions for the good of mankind.

August 7, 2020


suba suba
June 11, 2020

Really appreciate you sharing this article.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.

Mohammed Mahmood Mohammed
May 12, 2020

Congratulations you earned that degree

May 7, 2020

Congrats Dr. Kawther. With your efforts you make what is difficult, been easy to get. Keep going don’t give up. Always the beginning is difficult but with the patience will be easy.

Pialang Indo
March 29, 2020

Very true this virus is very contagious, serious and potentially deadly virus hopes we can do what we can to reduce the spread of this virus and find the best solution to eradicate it. I was very scared until now and just stayed at home all day. Thank you for the information.

Pam Humphrey
December 19, 2019

Lindsey is an amazing, competent and caring young woman. She will be an asset to any company forward-looking enough to hire her.

Naomi Rose
December 19, 2019

Wow! I am so proud of her. Nana

Dagang Valas
December 14, 2019

Congratulation Rivas, hopefully the knowledge gained can be useful in the future and can help the community. Merry Christmas and happy new year too.

Ginny Reiss
October 1, 2019

So proud of you Adrian!!!

R. William (Bill) Henderson
June 21, 2019

Father figures are needed in all parts of education and in all of life. I teach GED to inmates in a local jail and many of the problems these inmates have stems from their many drop out fathers both male and female.

Amy Vasquez
June 20, 2019

Three perfect examples of men with integrity.

April 26, 2019

Way to go, Kendra!

April 1, 2019

Indeed everyone need to eat, and many also complain about the food source quality. I think we all should, at least, do farming in our homes. If the lack of space is a problem, then we should use vertical farming methods. This will not only clean our environment but also reduce the peoples depression (as looking at green reduces depression and is good for mental health).

Linda Nolan
March 16, 2019

Great information! Thank you Dana for sharing Ms. Clark’s enthusiasm about Florida’s agricultural importance.

March 22, 2018

I am sooo proud of Gallagher n the example given to her by these wonderful women encouraging others to jump in n make a difference. I say take your places with men n unite making the difference side by side. WELL DONE!!!

Edelyn Tidholm
March 17, 2018

Great article!

Karen Webster
February 21, 2018

We are very proud of you and your dedication to make agriculture better.

February 21, 2018

Enjoyed reading your article. It was well written and I could tell that you had put a lot of thought into what you wanted to say. Wishing you a great deal of success as you work toward your dream of becoming a lawyer. May God bless and watch over you as you embark on this journey.

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