Deric M. Walker
Bachelor of Arts in Social Science, 2011
“I was in the back of a C-130 [flying into a warzone] working on papers.”
What does going to college look like for a typical Ashford student? For some, it might be posting in a discussion board while simultaneously soothing a crying baby at 2:00 am. You might see others using a mobile device to work on a paper during a morning commute on the train.
For Deric Walker, 35, a First Sergeant in the United States Air Force, who was deployed for six months while enrolled at Ashford, the conditions he worked under were even more strenuous. “I took classes while I was doing combat skills training and preparation for my deployment to Iraq,” he shares. “I took classes while I was in Naples, Italy getting training with NATO, and also in Baghdad, Iraq, flying into a war zone. I was in the back of a C-130 working on papers.”
This married father of two felt his Bachelor of Arts in Social Science degree was worth continuing under these conditions for its immediate professional benefits. “My job is to improve the quality of life of the 240 personnel in my unit and their families. I believe my degree adds to my competency level in that it helps my unit members feel at ease with my moral, ethical, and legal decision making in support of them, and it helps validates my position within the unit.”
Having earned two Associate’s degrees traditionally prior to enrolling at Ashford, Deric prefers the online format. “I liked being able to work at my own pace and incorporate my educational goals into my daily schedule. Ashford has allowed me to take my classroom with me literally anywhere in the world.” In addition to Iraq and Italy, Deric also completed classes while in Washington State, Wyoming, Texas, and Alabama.
Thankfully, the extensive traveling and Air Force demands didn’t prevent Deric from succeeding at Ashford. “As far as surprises I encountered while studying at Ashford, I think I was surprised at how smart I am! I worked hard on all of my assignments, and the instructors evidently recognized that. I ended up graduating Magna Cum Laude.”
Along with relishing his good grades, Deric enjoyed interacting with classmates from all walks of life. “Some students were from other countries, and they provided some great insight during our discussions,” he recalls. “I don't think you can get that type of perspective in a traditional classroom environment.”
Currently stationed at Dyess Air Force Base just outside of Abilene, TX, Deric cherishes the ability to show his children the value and importance of education. “It took me nearly 16 years to get my Bachelor’s degree due to the military commitment and other obligations,” he admits. “It certainly had it challenges, but finally getting it done is valuable beyond any measure.” To continue the momentum, Deric now plans to return to Ashford for a Master’s degree.
Ashford University is incredibly proud of the accomplishments of service members like First Sergeant Deric Walker, and we are honored to have each and every one of them in our community of students and alumni.