Wife, father-in-law provide spark of inspiration for degree

Coyle finds his place in computer science at MSU Texas

Wife, father-in-law provide spark of inspiration for degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree was not on Ethan Coyle’s radar for his life, even just a few years ago. But Saturday morning, he’ll receive a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Midwestern State University with his wife Kelce and other family in attendance.

When Ethan graduated from high school in Indiana in 2012, he didn’t know where his life was headed, so he joined the U.S. Air Force. He had been stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base and stayed in Wichita Falls after leaving the service, but the question of what to do with his life was still unanswered. He got a job at Radio Shack. Then he took another job, and another – for a while working three jobs.

Then he met his future wife, Kelce. They watched as Kelce’s father, Kenny Lemons Jr., walked the stage in 2018 to receive his master’s degree in criminal justice. “Seeing him graduate sparked something in me,” Ethan said. He was still unsure where his life was headed, but together he and Kelce decided to go school. They started taking core classes at Vernon College.

After having a few classes under his belt, Ethan surprised himself and did better than he had imagined. “The military, working multiple jobs – everything had matured me,” he said. Partly because of the Radio Shack job, he knew he liked technology. He started with some computer science classes but didn’t do so well at first. “I questioned my choice,” he said. “But I kept on and realized that I liked it.”

Ethan Coyle

Through the challenges of math classes, planning a wedding, getting married, and buying a house, he and Kelce both persevered. Kelce graduated in December 2021 with a bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in criminal justice. She now works at Helen Farabee Centers.

Professor of Computer Science Catherine Stringfellow had Ethan complete a resume to apply for an internship, which has since turned into his career. “His supervisor for his internship at ETC (Electronic Transaction Consultants) indicated he learned the business and the technology of the product assigned to him much faster than any other intern they’ve had,” Stringfellow said. “Ethan has shown so much growth in his knowledge and his technical capabilities over the past couple of years, due a lot to his diligence in studying. He has excellent soft skills in communication and teamwork.”

Ethan says Kelce has been his biggest motivation. “I started slow because I didn’t know how this would be, but she inspired me to push myself harder. It’s been a big learning curve. I didn’t have a clue.”

During his time at MSU Texas, Ethan also learned to appreciate the accessibility of his professors. “When I first started, I didn’t talk to them, but as time went on, I learned that they’re all open,” Ethan said. “I was probably in her (Stringfellow’s) office every day. She’s been extremely helpful; never turned anything down. They’re all more than willing to help.”

Ethan’s mom and sister from Indiana will be in the audience when he graduates. He is excited about the ceremony, but it also brings some sadness.

“I feel like I just started. I like being here on campus. I even liked homework and the program assignments. Never thought I’d say that,” Ethan said. “Solving problems was a challenge but became second nature. I’ll miss the challenges, and I’ll miss my fellow students. I’ve made a lot of friends here that will last outside school, but I’ll miss seeing them every day. We’re all on the same career path, so we’re like a support group.”

He’ll even miss room 320 on Bolin Hall’s third floor. “I think I had a class there every semester.”

Thinking of the inspiration he felt when he saw his father-in-law earn his master’s, Ethan says he’ll start looking at a master’s degree. “Never thought I’d get a bachelor’s. I can’t believe I’m thinking about a master’s.”

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