Rex Djere, a recent graduate of American Sentinel’s online master’s degree in computer science program (MSCS) shares what motivated him to go back to school to get an advanced degree.
Throughout Rex Djere’s career, education has always been of the utmost importance.
After graduating high school in 1990, Rex took three years of course work at Southern Illinois University, the University of Illinois, Chicago and Roosevelt University—initially as a saxophone performance major. However, he also juggled working full time at a downtown Chicago grocery store to pay his tuition, so when he met a Navy veteran in one of his classes, the man’s story intrigued him. “He told me about the great educational benefits for those coming out of the Navy, and I went to see a military recruiter the very next day,” says Rex.
A Distinguished Career
Rex enlisted in the Navy in 1993. He scored highly on the proficiency test, and was recruited into the nuclear power propulsion program. It was the start of an impressive career as a nuclear reactor technician, lead supervisor of nuclear reactor operators, and master nuclear instructor at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, the Nuclear Power Training Unit in upstate New York, aboard the U.S.S. George H. W. Bush and since 2010, and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash.
During his time in the Navy, Rex never stopped pursuing his college education. He sat for college-level examination program (CLEP) exams, took general education credits at Hampton University while stationed in Norfolk, Va., and eventually transferred all of his credits to Rensselear Polytechnic Institute (RPI) based in Troy, N.Y. There, he completed his undergraduate education and earned a dual bachelor’s in nuclear engineering and engineering physics in 2006.
“I love to learn,” says Rex, who took computer science classes at Tidewater Community College after earning his undergraduate degree. He quickly decided that he wouldn’t stop at a bachelor’s, and when he found American Sentinel, he was convinced it was the school for him. “I think the number one factor for me was how supportive American Sentinel is of the military,” he says. When Paul Capicik [American Sentinel’s vice president of military programs] called me to talk to me about my questions, I thought, ‘this is my school.’”
Rex started his M.S. Computer Science at American Sentinel in 2009 and managed his education around his work and family time—he is the father of two young children. “My parents were very educated people, always stressing the importance of education as the key to success,” he says. “I absorbed that. I’ve always felt that luck can carry you part of the way, but education will always be something you can fall back on.”
On His Way to a Doctorate
Unsurprisingly, when Rex graduated in summer 2012, he knew he wasn’t finished. He began a Doctor of Business Administration program at California Intercontinental University and will graduate in 2014—the same year he will retire from the Navy. One day, he says, he would love to teach at American Sentinel. “I had a great experience there, from that very first phone call all the way to graduation.”
“I have the engineering and the computer science and I think a business administration degree really brings it all together,” says Rex, who has now been taking college classes for more than 20 years. “I am proud of these degrees and the fact that I’ve made progress in a lot of different fields, but the thing I’m most proud of is being a well-rounded person.”