Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, 2009
Elementary School Teacher and Business Owner
"Ashford has helped me understand all aspects of business and to use them to surpass our company's benchmarks."
Andrew W. Parker III is 32 years old and lives in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. He began his education on an athletic scholarship in 1996, but left college after the birth of his first son, Devon. Since that time, he has held several different jobs, from serving tables and airline security to working as marketing manager for a casino. "I spent a lot of hours working," he says, "and could not find the time to finish my college degree. I attempted several times to take classes at local campuses, and it never seemed to work with being a father and a manager."
Then Parker got a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream. Together, he and his father bought a franchise called Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning of South Jersey. "My father and I had plenty of management experience," says Parker, "but not ownership experience. We found them to be two different worlds."
Parker realized he needed to finish his education to run his new business successfully. So he decided to go back to school after seven years away. He wanted a flexible and convenient online degree program that would allow him to fulfill his goals. "I also didn't want to be the kind of father who preaches education but doesn't stand for it himself."
Ever the good businessman, Parker took his time to research his options carefully. "I reached out and called all the recruiters and enrollment specialists," he says. "My Ashford Admissions Counselor always engaged me in meaningful conversation, and she never made me feel like she was just looking to close a sale."
Parker signed up to earn his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration degree. Once enrolled at Ashford University, Parker was impressed by the ease of taking five-week online courses one at a time. "I was very shocked to find out about some of my professors and classmates," says Parker. "One was a high-ranking military officer who had written several books. I was also amazed at how much I was able to learn about business, and how to increase the effectiveness of our business organization." In October, 2009, Parker finished his final course in his degree program, and now he is looking forward to attending Ashford's commencement ceremony in December. Now he has extended his reach by taking on opportunities to serve as a substitute teacher. And he is considering the option to continue his education with Ashford at the graduate level.
"My life has changed dramatically since enrolling at Ashford," Parker says. "Ashford has helped me understand all aspects of business and to use them to surpass our company's benchmarks. Completing my Bachelor's degree with Ashford has made it possible for me to open up doors and opportunities that previously were not possible. I can truly say I have a greater understanding of what it takes to run an organization."
Parker attended the commencement ceremony in December 2009 and proudly received his diploma. Since then, he and his father have grown the heating and air conditioning franchise - “We’ve gotten some nice contracts for commercial refrigeration and are working in several different states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York City, and Washington DC.” The franchise has also become involved with the Veteran’s Administration. “We put ourselves on the list of veteran’s employers - when military men and women are recycling back home, we give them preference for employment.”
Additionally, Parker belongs to the local zoning board of adjustments, and he has continued teaching. He has moved from substitute appointments to a full-time teaching job at an elementary school. As he explains it, “I started substitute teaching to supplement my income while we started the business. By the time the business had grown enough, I was in too deep with the school - I loved both worlds. They offered me a full-time contract when I graduated from Ashford, so now I do both.”