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Former Cowboy football standout earns new distance-learning degree

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Former Cowboy football standout and academic All-American Kyle Eaton continues to count his accomplishments off the field.

The 6-foot-8-inch former offensive lineman is among the first students at Oklahoma State University to receive a distance-learning master’s degree in family financial planning from the College of Human Environmental Sciences.

“One of the things that kept me with the program was the fact that you could take it anywhere,” said Eaton, who has made several moves since he graduated from OSU in 2002.

He currently works for Rench and Muir Financial Advisors Inc. in Denton, Texas.

“It took a while to adjust to the lack of face-to-face interaction, but the professors went out of their way to make sure students understood the concepts being taught,” Eaton said.

He points to flexibility as another plus for the new distance-learning degree program offered through the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (IDEA), a consortium of 10 universities that includes OSU.

“It’s obvious the professors who teach the family financial planning courses realize students have lives and families outside the discussion boards and homework assignments,” Eaton said. “When I first started working full time, it was tough at times to keep going, but it certainly gave me a lot of admiration and respect for those who are trying to balance a job and family life while earning a degree.”

The Zabcikville, Texas, native, who graduated in 2002 with a degree in management science information systems, expects his new degree to complement the skills he gained in data management as an undergrad.

“MSIS focuses on organizing raw data to make it useful to the client," Eaton said. "The same is generally true for financial planning since we use bank accounts, mortgage, income tax and other information to come up with a financial plan that makes sense for the client. In a nutshell, we evaluate where people are, where they want to go and what they need to do financially to get there.”

Eaton hopes to serve as a family financial planner and eventually work his way into financial counseling on a full-time basis. The NFL is not out of the question. Eaton recently read a news report that said 78 pro football players lost more than $42 million in a recent three-year period.

“Many athletes become instant millionaires who are trying to keep their focus on their performance in the sport and not researching investment tips,” Eaton said. "There’s a growing push on for certified financial planners for athletes and I think my own athletic background could be a big benefit in that area someday."

That’s just one possible option for Eaton, an academic All-American in his sophomore and senior years in college with a perfect grade-point average all four years. Aside from his athletic and scholastic backgrounds, Eaton's advantage is that he’s been surrounded by financial wisdom all of his life. His grandfather and father are professional financial advisors, and his mother is a shrewd money manager.

“She’s a kindergarten teacher who put both me and my sister through college, built her first home and paid for it in cash while I was in my sophomore year at OSU,” Eaton said. "She taught me the value of not getting something you want until you have the money to be able to pay for it.”

For more information about the new distance learning degrees available through OSU and the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, please contact the Academic Programs and Services Office at CHES at 405-744-9386.

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