Justin Watson

Justin Watson

Justin Watson

Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management, 2010
Navy Human Resources Specialist

"I would say that Ashford University has changed my life."

Ashford University recognizes the achievements of Staff Sergeant Justin Watson of the US Marines, both for his service to our country as well as his success as an Ashford online student. Watson demonstrates that with determination and persistence, even in the most challenging circumstances, a quality education is possible.

When he joined the Marines after high school in 2002, Watson found the idea of attending a university full-time almost impossible. Within his first year as a Marine, he was stationed in Okinawa, Japan and while stationed there he deployed to Pohang, Korea. “I served on Security Forces for a small base protecting the detachment of Marines when we first declared war.” In 2004, Watson was transferred to North Carolina where he served as a Combat Marksmanship Instructor providing crucial training to his fellow Marines on the rifle and pistol ranges. During this time, he was critically injured training for his battalion’s deployment to Iraq. While coping with his own injuries, Watson also had to confront his wife's ongoing medical issues, which eventually called him home to Florida. Unfortunately, his wife’s condition worsened and she suffered two amputations, requiring Watson to care for his wife, daughter, and newborn son.

Despite all this, Watson never gave up his dream of earning his degree. In 2008, Ashford University was able to make his dream a reality. "Finally, after nearly six years of wanting to go to college, I got the opportunity, and I took full advantage.” Watson explains that he heard about Ashford because two fellow Marines described good experiences there. Diligent in his research, Watson also talked to others who "shared horror stories about schools with online programs.” He decided to check out Ashford for himself. His Admissions Counselor, Gary Madsen, made the choice easy. "I was nervous about going to school online, but Gary was instrumental in helping me with the transition." One pleasant surprise upon enrolling was how many credits he had already earned. "I was amazed to find that all of my military training added up so much towards my degree," he reports. "I transferred 50 credits from my previous schooling."

Watson remained on active duty throughout his studies, and on September 13, 2010, he graduated summa cum laude with his Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management. Watson is also a member of Alpha Sigma Lambda and Golden Key International Honour Society.

On October 30, 2010, Watson was medically discharged from the Marine Corps due to his combat-related injuries. While some may have taken this as a serious blow, Watson surged ahead with determination and positivity. He obtained employment assistance through the Wounded Warrior Regiment and landed a job at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. “I work for Naval Audit Service as a Human Resources Specialist (Employee Development), and I love it. I could not have asked for a better transition from a career in the military to a civilian job.”

Watson is also considering pursuing a Master’s degree at Ashford. “I am not sure what my degree will be, but I am leaning toward Business Administration with a specialization in Finance.”

To anyone considering Ashford, Watson says: "You are making yourself more intelligent and a more marketable candidate for future jobs." He also offers these words of caution: "I have found that you should never take someone else's word on something important like school, or anything else for that matter." The best way to decide whether to enroll at Ashford is to "go out and experience it on your own - that is what learning is all about." For Watson, Ashford was certainly a good decision. "I would say that Ashford University has changed my life."