Three degrees of graduation

Cole Daniel
Cole Daniel

Honors Scholar taking steps toward success

KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec 2, 2016) — Cole Daniel will celebrate his graduation from Kennesaw State University this month by receiving not one degree, but three. However, he shrugs off his rare accomplishment.

“I think it’s a bigger deal for my parents than it is for me,” Daniel said with a smile.

Daniel will receive bachelor’s degrees in biology, economics and finance at the December commencement. A University Honors Program student with a 3.66 grade point average, he will graduate with Kennesaw State’s highest academic honor – Honors Scholar, which requires completion of Honors Program curricular requirements and graduation with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

What’s more, Daniel will be Kennesaw State’s first Honors Scholar to earn three simultaneous degrees, according to Honors Program director Liza Davis. He enrolled in as many as 19 credit hours per semester and took at least two summer courses each year at Kennesaw State, completing 214 credit hours.

“I certainly have enjoyed college, which is a testament to the quality of KSU’s faculty and opportunities,” Daniel said. “I chose biology, finance and economics in order to have a career in investment banking specializing in healthcare and biotechnology.”

Daniel aspires to be involved in investing in the pharmaceutical industry and the development of cancer-fighting drugs. He feels that his knowledge of finance and economics gives him an understanding of investing, while his biology background will enable him to target specific companies and drugs for investments.

“It takes billions of dollars just to bring one major drug to market,” Daniel said. “So my goal is to go to these big pharma companies and say, ‘I’m going to give you the capital necessary to research and develop this drug. In return, I want you to offer the drug at a lower price to consumers.’”

Medical advancements are of particular interest to Daniel, who was diagnosed in high school with Meniere’s disease, an inner-ear disorder that can result in vertigo, hearing loss, ringing in the ears and ear pressure. Daniel enrolled at Georgia College and State University as a freshman, but transferred to Kennesaw State to be closer to home following an incident of vertigo and nausea so severe that he had to be hospitalized. He manages his Meniere’s disease by taking medication and avoiding situations that could trigger his vertigo. 

However, it was a different medical condition that inspired Daniel’s interest in a health care-related career. He was born with hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain, and underwent life-saving surgery as an infant.

“I want to give back to the industry that saved my life,” Daniel said. “With all my medical issues, it is a small medical miracle that I am as able as I am today. It is a testament to what can be done and how far we have come in the medical field.”

Daniel began as a biology major, planning to become a dentist. His interest in economics and finance developed through courses he took from professors Ann Gillette and Randall Goodwin, and he gained practical experience by serving as the chief economist and chief global officer of the Student Managed Investment Fund in the Coles College of Business.

In addition, Daniel spent a semester studying abroad, earning a Japan-Asia Studies Certificate from Soka University in Japan. He also received a Certificate in Leadership Studies from KSU’s University College. 

“Cole is extremely inquisitive and thinks deeply about how things connect,” Gillette said. “He is a high achiever with a great moral compass. I am proud to know him and look forward to watching his life path develop.”

Now, after transferring schools, completing more than 200 credit hours and overcoming health problems, Daniel’s six-year journey to earning three bachelor’s degrees is nearly complete. As he looks forward to starting his career, does he consider all the time and effort in college worth it?

“It doesn’t come down to the size of your paycheck – it’s whether you can live the quality of life that you want to live,” he said. “As long as I have the quality of life I want, then that would be success.”


—   Paul Floeckher

Photos by David Caselli


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit