When Mary Fredette was 18 years old, her life changed dramatically. She moved into her first apartment and met her now husband, Jake, whom she married in Arizona—and then the two moved to Fort Hood, Texas, where Jake joined the Army. As Mary put it, “Life happened, and education wasn’t a priority.”
But with Jake in basic training and gone for nine months out of the year, Mary—who was then six months pregnant—started considering her options. “Often in the military life, you can get lost in this lifestyle,” she explained. “I have been very blessed with my husband because he's kind of been that person that even when I didn't want to, he kept nudging me to go back to school. And that's just what I needed.”
Jake reasoned that it was the perfect time for her to go back to school. “It was just a good time with her not working to be able to get ahead in school and get a degree,” he shared. So Mary started exploring her options, even though she wasn’t sure she was ready to take the leap.
“I think that when you're married, that's what you're supposed to do,” she said. “You're supposed to lift each other up and support each other, even sometimes when you feel like you're not ready or you can't do it.”
But with Jake’s encouragement, Mary found the confidence to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program at WGU.
Mary was drawn to WGU because it’s an accredited university, and Jake loved that it was a nonprofit. When Mary reached out to WGU for more information, she was impressed that the school was as invested in her being a good fit for the program as they were in being a good fit for her and her needs. Plus, she loved their competency-based approach to education.
“The competency-based approach at WGU Texas is so unique because it allows you to accelerate through what you already know and focus more on what you don't,” she said. “You don't have a set time to log in, so you can really study at any time.” And as a new mother, that kind of freedom was important.
Mary was also drawn to WGU’s support system, which included one-to-one mentorship that would help her achieve her academic goals and stay on task. “I feel like that's the difference I needed in an online college,” Mary noted. “My mentor is there to call me every Monday and make sure I'm really reaching that next step. She'll help me set deadlines that maybe will push me just a little bit—that little nudge that I need to help me progress through it quickly.”
But even more than that, Mary considers her mentor a valued friend. Said Mary, “We've talked about our kids. She knows what's happening in my life. So if I do have something come up, she understands that, and she'll know how to coach me through that.”
The more Mary navigated through the coursework, the more she felt like her dream of getting her degree was within reach. “I gained so much confidence,” she said, adding that she never felt that way before starting school at WGU. So what was so different about WGU to inspire such a shift? “Your education at WGU is in your own hands.”
For Mary, that meant being in charge of how quickly she accelerated through her program. In one term, she finished four courses in just three months, which allowed her to pick another four courses to take before the end of her term. “You're paying by the semester,” she explained. “So as you accelerate—the quicker you accelerate—the more affordable it becomes.”
Mary was enjoying her WGU experience so much, she encouraged her husband to enroll, too.
“To get anywhere in the military, you have to have a degree,” Jake said. “So as far as developing and gaining rank, it's going to help me to provide for my daughter.”
Jake found that WGU fit into both his life in the military, and life as a new dad, thanks to its flexible scheduling. “Whenever I have time, I bring my computer with me,” he noted. “We pay for a hot spot, so I study whenever I get the opportunity.”
“With a schedule for soldiers, this is like the perfect college,” Jake added. “There's not been a person that I've talked to about WGU that didn't want to go.”
With Jake working towards his online degree, Mary figured out how to fit her educational pursuits into her life as a military mom and achieve her academic goals. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management in 2015, and came back in 2016 to start her MBA degree—which she completed in 2018.
“Going to WGU has given me that confidence I needed to know that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to,” Mary shared.
And WGU was lucky to share in this journey with her and her family.