Donald Palmer

Donald Palmer

Donald  Palmer
Master of Business Administration, Organizational Leadership specialization, 2008 

"There aren't a lot of schools out there like Ashford."

Donald Palmer has always been driven. In 1998, he pursued an Associate's degree in Network Administration though the major was not available yet. He persevered and was allowed to graduate in 2001 with a Certificate of Completion in Computer Science with an Emphasis in Network Administration along with various industry certifications such as CompTIA's A+ and Network + as well as a Microsoft MCP.

Palmer quickly secured a job as a Network Operations Center Engineer, just in time for the dot com bubble to burst. He was laid off and left without any prospects. Instead of giving up, he decided to change careers. Palmer chose to follow in his father's footsteps and enter the profession of law enforcement. He got a job with a post 9/11 federal law enforcement unit who was growing and expanding operations rapidly. Within 18 months he was promoted to supervisor at the rank of Staff Sergeant.

At the same time, he also actively pursued his online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree. He graduated, Magna Cum Laude, from Southwestern College of Winfield, Kansas in 2006.

Over the course of his years on the job, he has been an operational supervisor of security and police services, an executive protection specialist and an intelligence specialist. "I have found the field both rewarding and challenging but the most challenging aspect of my job has been that of managing other personnel. As such I began to seek additional management skills and ultimately a management degree. Eventually I settled on the MBA in Organizational Leadership from Ashford because this degree not only provides what I need now, but has utility among a wide variety of professions should I ever decide to move up and on."

For his graduate work, Palmer chose Ashford University for a variety of reasons including its accreditation, the accelerated 6 week format for classes, and Ashford's history and dedication toward success and civic responsibility. He was also glad to learn that Ashford has a campus in Clinton, Iowa with an online program rather than a purely "virtual" university. Finally, he felt like more than just another number when he spoke with his Admissions Counselor. "After speaking with him off and on for several weeks I began to get the feeling that he really cared about whether or not I am successful in my academic ventures. Not only that, but he didn't push me to enroll in Ashford, instead he gave me the impression that he wanted me to find out what would be right for me."

During his first few weeks as a graduate student, Palmer reported that he was impressed and surprised with facets of the program like the amount of required reading, the amount of communication between faculty and students and the diversity of the students. "There are people who are just beginning their careers all the way to retirees and everything in between. The combined experience of the students and their varying backgrounds is quite rich. I have enjoyed the interaction with my fellow students and enjoy reading their discussion posts."

Balancing a 40+ hour work week, a family and graduate school presented some major time constraints for Palmer. But he found the online format more accommodating than traditional schools. "There is so much time you must invest in school that you have to cut from other areas of your life. I have less time for things like television or going out, but this is to be expected of any school, online or not. The great thing about going online is that I get to determine my own schedule, which is important to me. Without being able to log on and do my work around my own schedule I don't think school would be a feasible option for me given the unpredictable nature of my schedule."

Don graduated with his MBA in 2008 at age 30. "Everything kind of clicked into place all at once. I changed careers and had my first child within 18 months of completing my MBA at Ashford University, and everything has gone well from there." Don also says he continues to encourage others to give Ashford University a close look. "From my personal student perspective, beginning to end Ashford had the most administratively transparent, haggle-free educational experience I have ever been a part of."

His advice to anyone who may be considering higher education for themselves is, "Choose what is right for you. There is no one school that is everything to everybody, so do what you feel is the best choice for you. Ashford has a lot to offer in the way of personalized attention, an interest in your personal success, streamlined presentation of materials and a variety of majors to select from. There aren't a lot of schools out there like Ashford."