Success Stories Straight from Our Students
Ashford University has made a dramatic difference in the lives of its military and veteran students and graduates. Read about the impact an Ashford education has been to those who have benefitted the most – the students themselves. Are you a current Ashford University student using VA benefits, or an alumnus? Share your voice!
One evening…Katelyn was sharing stories with a sergeant who told her about his experience earning an online degree at Ashford University.
“He told me how good it was to have a degree listed on his resume and how successful he had become since attending Ashford University,” she says. “One thing I took away from that conversation was that I should get college done while I was in the Army so that when I got out, I would get my dream,” she says.
Several months would pass before Katelyn started her first class at Ashford, but once she did, she was committed to earning her degree no matter what obstacles she faced along the way.
Katelyn enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree program in September 2016. Of course, having a husband who is a staff sergeant in the military means traveling often, and sometimes big moves – like relocating from Colorado to Georgia and back to Colorado in two years’ time – can make focusing on her studies a challenge. Katelyn credits her advisor and instructors for making her many transitions manageable.
“Every teacher I have had so far is very understanding and willing to help any way they can,” she says. “Everyone was amazing and helped me with more resources and to get back on track. They really have the patience to deal with people.”
Brian, who is in charge of recruiting and retention for the Illinois Army National Guard, earned a perfect 4.0 GPA at Ashford University despite his military commitment – which included an overseas deployment!
Brian credits the staff and technology behind Ashford’s online platform for making it possible. “While deployed, it was very easy to communicate and attend the classes. Being online, you can feel like you’re a million miles away with a lot of different schools, but the customer service at Ashford has been outstanding.”
Prior to enrolling at Ashford, Brian had attended three different community colleges along with going through his military training. Luckily, these credits didn’t go to waste. “Ashford made it very easy for me to attend online. They transferred everything in and gave me a good idea of what path to take from there.”
The professional benefits of having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management degree, which he did at the age of 46, have been tangible as well. “My team does a lot of projects within the community, so it gives me new ideas, fresh information, and more knowledge to pass on to them about how to make successful projects happen.” Brian also feels his degree will benefit him in the future. “They’re telling me I’m going to have to retire one of these days, and I’m going have to find a ‘real job’ – I’m hoping the knowledge and experience that I’ve gained from Ashford is going to help me in my next career when I retire from the military.”
A disabled Marine Corps veteran, Maritza was able to attend Ashford University with the help of the Post 9/11 GI Bill. She had tried school “on and off” but didn’t find a format she was comfortable with until she applied to Ashford.
“The difference with this school, [the structure] was just so much easier,” she said. “With the kids, just knowing that I had that was really good for me. Knowing that Thursdays were discussion board topics and Monday is the assignment – every week I already knew, ‘Alright, I have to get this done.’”
Maritza’s ultimate goal is to become a therapist and offer her counsel pro-bono to those who need it. Following graduation, she returned to Ashford for her Master of Arts in Psychology, and someday hopes to earn her doctorate.
Whatever the future holds, Maritza is confident that she’ll find the same success, using the same motivation that led her to Ashford.
“There were times I did want to throw in the towel and say, ‘Oh forget it,’ but it’s so worth it. When you see that you have three classes left, or two classes left, it builds you up. No matter what it is that tries to stop you, take time to think for yourself, and accomplish [your goal] because you’re going to set an example for so many people.”
When his time in the Marine Corps was coming to an end, Olumide knew he needed to prepare for a civilian career.
“The fact of the matter is I’m a wounded warrior and the only education I had was a high school diploma,” he says. “Education is the currency of the 21st century, and your education has to be current with your skill level.”
Stationed in Okinawa, he says he tried a traditional program through another university, but it didn’t work with his frequent deployments. He chose Ashford because the online platform provided a classroom experience with more flexibility.
“I received my undergraduate degree so I knew I could take care of my family,” he says. “When I received my master’s degree, I did that for myself because I knew I still had the fire inside me to take it a little bit further.”
For Nakia Bennett, the pursuit of a college degree began as a means to a good career. But after the U.S. Army veteran was designated as disabled in 2010, a degree became a personal goal.
Nakia’s first attempt at college started in 2001, shortly after he got out of the Army. It was not easy to fit college into his busy life though. Nakia was working full-time, and he was sent overseas three times as a civilian contractor, including a stint in Kuwait in 2003 when the United States declared war on Iraq.
In 2014, he decided to give college one last try. At the time, his wife and one of his daughters were attending Ashford University. Despite some reservations about attending an online school, Nakia opted to follow the lead of his family and enrolled at Ashford.
“I was never into online schooling,” he says. “I felt as if I learned better in a more traditional classroom setting. I could not have been more wrong.”
Nakia enrolled in Ashford’s Bachelor of Arts in Health Care Administration program in June, 2014. At Ashford, he finally found a supportive school that met his needs and provided a quality education.
“The support from the staff was effortless,” he says. “If I had a question or concern, it was super easy to get the answer. If someone told me they would call me back, then that is exactly what they did. I feel the education I received was on par with the level of education I would have received at any traditional college or university.”
At the end of 2017, Nakia completed the journey he began 16 years earlier when he graduated from Ashford. The degree made him the first of his siblings to graduate from college. His is not the only Ashford diploma in the Bennett family though. Not only did his wife and oldest daughter already graduate from Ashford, but his youngest daughter is currently enrolled and, as Nakia proudly notes, “In a few years, she will be adding a fourth degree to the family’s wall.”
The journey to college graduation may have been long and circuitous for Nakia, but it was ultimately worth it.
“It feels so good to have finally reached a monumental personal goal in my life and to have Ashford University as the vessel that got me through to the end,” he says.
After 13 years serving as infantry in the U.S. Marine Corps, Master Sergeant Nelson Adames made a plan of attack for civilian life. He knew he couldn’t continue his physically demanding post forever, but as an instructor for other Marines, there was an even more pressing concern: he needed English credits to get to the next instructor rank.
“A majority of the other instructors who I was working with were actually at Ashford or alumni,” said Nelson. “They were saying, ‘Hey, you can do online, they’re five-week courses,’ and they kind of just broke it down.
Nelson saw his peers starting and stopping as needed to accommodate deployments, but they never gave up. Despite orders that took him from North Carolina to Hawaii to Okinawa to Twentynine Palms, neither did Nelson.
In March 2017, Nelson clinched his bachelor’s in Organizational Management, but he’s not quite ready to give up Marine Corps life. He’s using his degree right where he is and is still looking to stretch himself.
“Once you’ve reached the rank of a sergeant, they look at it like, what is this Marine doing outside? So by continuing your education, you’re marked higher than your peers. When it gets competitive, it can be between you and somebody else who isn’t continuing their education.”
Nelson exudes confidence now, but it wasn’t always that way. Before joining the military, he earned an associate’s degree in AutoCAD but kept losing out on jobs. “If I had then what I have now, I would kick down the doors and say, ‘This is why you need to hire me.’”
Read more success stories from our students on our website.