Business Student Realizes Long-Deferred Dream

Unexpected Life Changes Inspire Return to School
Like many high school graduates, Vince Castleberry put off going to college far longer than he’d intended. Year after year he told himself he’d enroll later, when the time was right. The trouble was, “Later never came,” says Vince, who lives in south Georgia and works as a senior group leader administrative assistant for the distribution arm of Target Stores.

Then, a pair of big surprises forced him to re-evaluate. On the same day that he was diagnosed with melanoma—“The doctor told me that if I had waited six more months, he would not have been able to save my life,” Vince says—he learned that he’d gotten a promotion at work. With life’s unpredictable twists fresh on his mind, he decided it was time to stop procrastinating and commit to earning a bachelor’s degree.

A Plan that Paid Off

Even with his new found motivation, Vince had doubts about his ability to grapple with the coursework for American Sentinel’s Bachelor of Science Business Administration online degree program. “I was very hesitant to go back to school,” Vince says. “I felt that I was not smart enough to do so, because that was what I had been told all of my life. My boss and my wife helped me realize I could do it, and I was the only person stopping me.”

He quickly discovered that the same skills essential to his job would be essential to his American Sentinel experience. “One of my strengths in life and work is managing execution,” Vince says. “My mind is geared to being efficient.” Right after enrolling in each of his American Sentinel courses, Vince entered the class schedule and activities into an Outlook calendar.

“This really is helpful if you are taking three classes, as I did,” he says. “I always tried to stay a half-week ahead just in case of an emergency; you never know what can happen. This also allowed me to spend more time with the family, because I knew what was coming up.”

In addition, Vince sought opportunities to study during “found time,” such as lunch hours, travel delays and waiting for appointments. “I once did a whole week’s worth of reading while waiting for the doctor to see me,” he says.

On a Fast Track to Success

Vince graduated with his B.S. Business Administration in 2010, and already has seen significant benefits. “The biggest thing I have learned to apply from my courses is asking more questions when problem-solving,” he says. “Before, I would see a problem and immediately start working on a solution. Now I get a deeper understanding of an issue or problem before taking any action. This has made me more effective at resolving issues by saving time [and] getting directly to the root of the issue.”

He also has developed new tools to help senior management keep a tighter handle on their distribution center’s processes. For Vince, in turn, doing so has created a greater understanding of the business and the ramifications of daily decision-making.

Thanks to his online business degree and new found knowledge, Vince expects that he’ll be promoted again in the coming months, this time to an entry-level executive position. “It’s absolutely required that you have a bachelor’s degree to make that jump,” he says.

[Just a couple months after this interview, Target offered Vince an executive position.]

“Education is a building block for many other things,” he says. “It will give you an understanding of what is happening and how to adapt that situation from a class example. Education requires commitment, the same type of commitment that employers are looking for.”

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