When Brian graduated from high school in 1994, he went off to college—something he’d wanted to do since he was a kid. But after two semesters at Churchman Business School, Brian was overwhelmed. “I was working two jobs, going to school full time, and it was just too hard,” he says. “Things didn’t work out.”
Brian decided to join the Marine Corps to help fund his education. After two and a half years of service, he was living in San Diego and began taking courses at San Diego Community College District’s three campuses. But the goal was always a bachelor’s degree.
Drawn to Technology
Brian always had a strong interest in technology and knew that IT would be an excellent career. After years of doing administrative work, attending community college and a short stint at National University in San Diego, the stars aligned for him in 2004. “I was laid off from my job and a classmate of mine told me about his company, which installed computer networks on Navy ships,” says Brian.
His military background and interest in IT made him a good candidate, and Brian landed a job as a technical consultant. At the same time, he decided that an online university would better suit his life. “I needed a school that would allow me to work at my own pace, and American Sentinel had the Bachelor of Science Management Information Systems program I wanted. American Sentinel’s military scholarship was a great bonus for me, too.”
A Step at a Time
Brian pursued his degree one class at a time, taking breaks when he needed to. His job was hectic, requiring frequent travel to Navy bases in Hawaii, Florida, Virginia and Japan. It wasn’t easy, Brian admits, but he was motivated to keep going for his young son, his wife—a second grade teacher with bachelor’s and master’s degrees—and his parents, who didn’t go to college themselves but always hoped Brian would.
With two courses left to graduate, Brian planned on walking at graduation in June 2010. But everything changed that spring. Brian’s mom became ill and after a rapid decline, passed away on June 28. However, his mother’s death only inspired Brian to finish what he started. He completed his final classes in the fall and earned his diploma in November 2010. “I know my mom was very proud of me,” he says. “I did this for my family. They are the reason I wanted to get my degree. This was my goal for 12 years, and I’m proud that I finally achieved it.”
Celebrating His Success
In June 2011, Brian, his wife and his son took a road trip to Denver, Colorado, to attend American Sentinel’s commencement. Brian’s father flew out from Florida. “It’s a big celebration in my family,” says Brian. “To get this degree means a lot.” As for his next steps, after spending the summer with his family, Brian will begin searching for a management position that will utilize his IT background and MIS degree. Although he loves his field and may eventually earn a master’s in IT, Brian says he also may end up in the classroom one day—the elementary school classroom. “I love kids, and for some reason, kids love me! Teaching is something I’ve always thought about. Someday, maybe.”