Arkansas CAD Professional Turns to Online Education to Further Career in GIS

– Advanced Education Plays Important Role to Put GIS Professionals at the Top of This Growing Field –

AURORA, Colo. – May 9, 2013 – When the pressures of juggling both a full-time job and school became far too great, Ozark, Ark. native Kristifier Paxton, enlisted in the Army National Guard in 2005 and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. So when he left the Army in 2010, Paxton was eager to finish what he’d started.

Paxton had always enjoyed drawing and maps, so he decided to get an associate degree in computer-aided drafting and design at the University of Arkansas, Fort Smith.

From CAD to GIS

After graduating, he landed a job as a civil draftsman at an engineering and land surveying firm in Van Buren, Ark., but decided to continue his education in hopes of eventually expanding his career into geographic information systems (GIS).

“I was definitely looking for a military-friendly school,” says Paxton, who took advantage of his GI Bill education benefit. With his job, a young family and no four-year colleges with GIS programs within a 75-mile radius of his home, an online program was key to his needs.

“I knew a brick-and-mortar school wouldn’t fit my busy schedule and my life. I was really impressed with American Sentinel University’s GIS bachelor’s program. I found it to be comparable to some of the top programs in the United States.”

Education Becomes A Family Endeavor

Juggling work and family was not Paxton’s only challenge.

His wife is also in school, pursuing a master’s degree in information technology management at Webster University. Both have hectic schedules and work on their homework from the moment their toddler goes to bed until their own bedtime.

“Time management is challenging,” Paxton admits. “But attending online universities makes it possible. We try to view this as a time when we’re working to better our lives. One day, we’ll have our diplomas hanging over our desks and our daughter won’t even remember all the hours we spent studying.”

Though an online format has made college doable for Paxton, it hasn’t made it easy.

“It isn’t a breeze by any means,” he says. “I continue to be challenged and meet interesting people working in the field worldwide. My professors are excellent and so knowledgeable.”

Onward and Upward

With drive and dedication as well as unwavering support from his wife and his student success advisor, Cheyenne Williams, Paxton has been able to make it through – and he landed a new job as a CADD technician for another land surveying and engineering firm just a few months after completing his bachelor’s degree in GIS in September 2012.

“Kristifier is a very engaged and motivated team player. I believe he was able to land a job so quickly after completing his degree because American Sentinel provided him with the tools he needed for the real world outside of his GIS military experience,” says Williams, Paxton’s student success advisor at American Sentinel University.

Paxton has already decided he won’t stop there.

He was one of the first students to be accepted into American Sentinel’s new Master of Geospatial Information Systems.

“The bachelor’s was a great GIS introduction, but the master’s program has been even more exciting, rewarding and challenging,” Paxton says. He’ll complete the Geospatial Information Systems graduate certificate in 2013 – comprised of the master’s program’s first five courses – and plans to finish the Master of GIS in 2014.

“Kristifier is truly the mastermind behind his own success and his perseverance, dedication and passion for GIS make him an ideal candidate for the MGIS degree program,” says Williams.

More importantly, Paxton acknowledges that GIS is a diverse, growing field and he knows that education plays an important factor for him to further his career in this promising new field.

“I know that the higher degree I have, the more employable I’ll be,” Paxton says, adding that he hopes to gain supervisory GIS experience after he finishes his master’s program.

One day, Paxton said he would love to teach at a college.

“I love learning and I’m excited that these degrees will put me at the top of my field.”

Learn more about American Sentinel University’s GIS master’s degree program.

About American Sentinel University

American Sentinel University delivers the competitive advantages of accredited associate, bachelor’s and master’s online degree programs focused on the needs of high-growth sectors, including information technology, computer science, GIS masters programs, online GIS certificates, computer information systems and business intelligence degrees. The university is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), which is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.