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July 19, 2021

Alumni Spotlight: Curtis Brady

Curtis Brady

When Navy veteran Curtis Brady decided it was time to advance his career after overcoming a serious injury, WGU Indiana checked all the boxes. WGU serves almost 15,000 active-duty and veteran students, in addition to more than 900 military spouses and dependents. The personal care, understanding, direction, and one-on-one teaching from faculty and fellow students helped Curtis approach his education confidently.

In his time at WGU Indiana, Curtis faced many obstacles, including his lack of experience with technology, a serious heart condition, the passing of his mother, and a busy schedule as a caretaker for his grandson.

Despite these challenges, Curtis successfully completed his Bachelor of Science in marketing management at age 59 thanks to his unending perseverance and WGU Indiana’s flexible program. While the COVID-19 pandemic paused his career aspirations, Curtis consistently receives job offers and is excited about his future.

What lessons did you learn during your time in the Navy?

The biggest lessons I learned were appreciation for quality, professionalism, and approachability. Aboard my ship, I had a commanding officer who had the foresight to be professional and focused while still being open with the crew. He was approachable, and approachability is crucial. WGU Indiana’s approachability played a big part in knowing it was the right fit for me. The first person I spoke with about pursuing a degree was at a job fair, and he led the conversation with things that were important to me, including the ability to go at your own pace and the flexibility an online education offers.

After serving in the Navy, what career did you pursue?

Immediately after leaving the Navy, I tried to file for unemployment, but I didn’t qualify because of the benefits I received as a veteran. I ended up getting a job at a factory and then worked at the North American Coal Company as a machinist, which is where I injured my back. After my injury, I couldn’t reenter the workforce because of the insurance ramifications.

When I heard about WGU Indiana at a job fair, I had already researched many other online universities. WGU Indiana fit what I needed. I could work at my own pace, complete my degree online, and still have personal interactions with professors and other students. Receiving my education through WGU Indiana allowed me to progress my career in a way I never thought possible after my injury.

What obstacles did you face in your pursuit of a degree and new career path?

Going to school in the digital age was very daunting for me, but I knew I had to do it. Between inexperience with technology and living in a rural environment, I wasn’t sure I would be successful. Fortunately, WGU Indiana lent me a laptop to help me complete my coursework. I also wanted to give up many times due to health issues, but my program mentor wouldn’t let me. It’s incredible to have someone you’ve never met know what buttons to push to keep you going.

What advice would you give to someone facing similar challenges or looking to reignite their career with additional education?

Do it! Don’t ever sell yourself short and don’t put limitations on yourself. Everyone has it in them, you just have to want it. My mentors and everyone at WGU Indiana played a big part in my success, and they will play a big part in yours too if you let them.

Higher education is intimidating, and pursuing it later in life can make obtaining the education you deserve even more difficult. Unlike “traditional” students, adult learners require additional flexibility to complete a degree while they juggle other responsibilities like families and jobs. However, more than 35% of college students are veterans or working parents, meaning the need for flexible programs like the one WGU Indiana offered Curtis Brady is evident.

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