BIS in Individualized Study

Leb Pittman, 2004

Leb Pittman

Leb Pittman spent twenty years in the military. He got married and raised a family. When he retired from the military, he became a government worker. Over the years, he had taken a lot of college courses from many different schools. "At the prompting of my wife, I decided to throw it all together and get a bachelor's degree." That is when Leb discovered the BIS program at George Mason University.

Once Leb began his BIS program, he had some things to figure out and again, he found the BIS staff very supportive. "You could walk in almost anytime and talk. The staff enjoyed your visits. I was older when I started. By that time, you're pretty motivated and self-sufficient. Most of the questions were administration questions, how to deal with this or that."

As for his concentration, "I knew what I thought I wanted to do. The hardest part was setting up a program and getting it approved. Coming up with a name for my program. I wanted a solid, valid title." 

Leb was motivated to get to his goal of earning his BIS. "I went every semester and the summer to get the forty plus hours I needed. I didn't skip anything. I was a part-time student, working, raising a family and taking two classes during the summer. I did not want to 'Dilly-dally'."

As a result of his hard work, Leb graduated in 2004 with a BIS [concentration] in international political history. The BIS program had served a solid purpose. Though Leb did not need the degree for his job, "I took the course [BIS] for me. Self-achievement, personal achievement." Reaching that goal helped set him up for his next educational goal: earning a master's degree. After taking the summer off, Leb enrolled in a master's program in European history.

In reflecting on how he feels now, having earned his BIS, Leb says, "It is like suddenly having your sight restored. Prior to BIS, I was like one of the blind guys touching the elephant, trying to figure out what it is. Maybe you need to get out of the way, maybe you need to know it better. Being in BIS brought me out of the darkness and into the light."

By Pamela J. Martin