Associate of Arts in Business, 2010
"I had always wanted to go to college. Now that I have graduated, my life will never be the same."
Grover Heard, 66, began his professional life at the age of 20 as an assistant manager at the WF Bell clothing store, but quickly moved into the oil and gas business, where he spent the next 40 years. Seven years ago, Grover opened his own oil field company, Gulf Coast Project Corporation. He is also an ordained minister of the United Pentecostal Church International.
Over his lifetime, Grover earned two management certificates (from Dale Carnegie and Chiles Offshore Drilling Company), but until two years ago had not experienced a formal college education. "I was not able to go to college as a young boy after high school. My father had cancer and I received a minor's release to work so I could help the situation."
When he did decide to enroll in college, it was because of his daughter's pursuit of higher education. "My middle daughter, Christie, enrolled at Ashford first and began telling my wife just how much she was enjoying it." The next thing they knew, the entire family was attending Ashford. Christie received her Bachelor's and is now enrolled in a Master's program; Grover's youngest daughter, Melanie, is currently pursuing her Associate's degree; and both of his sons-in-law have graduated with their Master's degrees. Not to be shown up by their children, Grover and his wife, Anna, both enrolled in and completed Associate's degrees.
Clay Duvall, one of Grover's sons-in-law, describes how inspiring it was to have such a great support system. "I appreciate all that my father-in-law has taught me in the years that I have known him. While I was in my Master's program, there were many times that I thought about quitting and every time I would look at him and think, 'If he can do it, so can I." Clay's wife, Melanie, echoes her husband's sentiments: "My dad is such a hard worker and it has been an inspiration for me to watch him achieve his goal. He is a great father in every way and this is just one more positive attribute to add to the wonderful person that he is."
Once graduation day came, the 1,400-mile drive (one way) from Texas to Clinton, Iowa seemed completely worthwhile. "Ashford University was much more than I expected," Grover reports. "The graduation was so enjoyable, and completely worth every mile of that drive." Along the way, Grover could not help but share his enthusiasm for Ashford. "I have already spoken to many people about Ashford, including the employees of the Highway Department of Iowa, who I met on my way to Clinton and back."
Clay and Melanie were not able to accompany her parents to Clinton, but they were able to watch a webcast of the commencement online. "My heart swelled with pride as I watched my parents receive their diplomas."
In addition to contributing to the cause of educating the entire Heard clan, Grover explains that an education is incredibly beneficial to his professional life. "I need all the education I can get, being in business for myself, and I plan to get all of the degrees that I can." And Grover is not waiting another moment - he's already set to re-enroll for his Bachelor's degree, and after that he plans to pursue a Master's degree.
"I had always wanted to go to college. Now that I have graduated, my life will never be the same. I cannot wait to get started again." For Grover Heard, his greatest success is a simple but poignant realization: "I love to go to school."
Grover, now 67, has already felt the benefits of his degree in his professional life. "There is no doubt of the impact my degree has had on my accounting for million-dollar projects. I also have more confidence in myself, and a better knowledge of business plans that work for companies (whether large or small). My only regret is that I did not get my degree before I went into business for myself."
Grover is also moving forward with his plans to earn his Bachelor's degree. "Just today I talked to an advisor about starting back on my Bachelor's degree. I cannot wait!"