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In 1997, I enlisted in the Marine Corps in because I wanted to give back to our Nation. The Marine Corp taught me core values, discipline, along with a strong work ethic, and many opportunities to lead other Marines at a young age. I was stationed in San Diego, Camp Pendleton, 29 Palms and this is where I was first introduced to Information Technology. The Marine Corp was going through a transitional phase and, as it turned out, I was in the right place at the right time to discover a career in IT. We were upgrading operating systems and coaxial to Ethernet, and there were very few IT resources - yet the work had to be done. I was instructed to figure out how to use the system and train several others. As a result, I was awarded the Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal for my work in the transitional process.
After separating from the Marine Corp in 2000, I moved back to Indianapolis. I was hoping to secure an IT position but, without a degree, I found a job in publishing computer and trade books instead. The majority of my work was in publishing however, as the only person in the office with IT experience, they relied on me to keep the office server up and running efficiently. As the publishing industry changed, the office closed, and we were all laid off. I decided to use my GI Bill to go back to school for my associates degree at Ivy Tech.
I was working part-time for FedEx while going to school. While there, I met my wife and life got in the way of school. I was very successful with the online classes that Ivy Tech offered at the time but, the classes that I was required to attend in person were a struggle. Consequently, I didn’t graduate.
I went back to work full-time, this time as a project coordinator in IT - managing IT implementations for 30 UPS stores. I learned a lot about working with customers, contractors and deadlines, but I was ready for a change.
I took a position with Ascension working for St. Vincent Hospital as an IT Quality Assurance Analyst. I enjoyed learning about the health care system while working in IT. After being in that position for a year, I moved into IT Security, still with Ascension. I held several positions in IT infrastructure, medical equipment security and IT Security. I was recently promoted to Cloud Security Operations Manager and I knew it was time to go back to school. Ascension had made it clear to me that if I wanted to move up, I was going to need my degree. I enrolled in WGU Indiana and I’m currently working on my business degree in IT Management.
Ascension’s tuition reimbursement policy is great in that it covers the federal cap, which is almost all of WGU Indiana’s tuition. I pay very little out-of-pocket per year, to get my degree. With all of my experience the competency based model is perfect for me. It allows me to run as fast as I can. I have the flexibility to work full time, go to school, attend my son’s school programs, travel for work, and still be successful as a father, husband, student and employee.
Having a bachelor’s degree will validate my knowledge and experience. It will allow me to secure a director in Information Security position, which will allow me to better provide for my family and our future. I am setting an example for my son and proving to him that there are many paths to accomplish your goals.
If someone is considering going to WGU Indiana, I would tell them: Go for it, do it! What are you waiting for? I put it off for too many years.
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