Ralph Brice

Ralph Brice

Ralph Brice
Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management, 2011
Air Force Staff Sergeant

"After taking one course, I knew this school was different..."

Ralph Brice grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and dropped out of high school after his sophomore year. He began to visit the Recreation Center regularly to play basketball, and a coach took an interest in him. "The coach advised me to get back into school, and he contacted another coach at Lower Eastside Prep School in Lower Manhattan. I graduated from there with my high school diploma in 1979."

After high school, Ralph moved to California, where a coach from San Diego Mesa College recruited him to play basketball. "I played for one year. Then I got married and had two sons, Raphael and Gabriel. With work and a family, I had to stop furthering my education."

In 1986, Ralph joined the Air Force Reserve as a Security Policeman. "I was deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1990 during the Gulf War in Operation Desert Storm, and I continued in the reserve until 1994 when I got out to spend more time with my family." After attending his son's graduation from Basic Training (Air Force) in 2006, Ralph decided to re-join the reserve. "I joined as a Service Specialist, and found myself being deployed once again, this time to Iraq for five months." Currently, Ralph serves the Air Force as a Staff Sergeant.

After his return from Iraq, Ralph met Prospero Atienza, an Ashford University Enrollment Advisor. "He did an unofficial assessment of my current college credit and told me I could most likely finish within a year. I did not believe him at first - I had tried online programs in the past and they left a bad taste in my mouth. I felt that these schools were just out to get your money and I thought Ashford was no different. After taking one course, I knew this school was different because Prospero called me almost daily to give me advice on schoolwork."

When we spoke to Ralph, he was almost finished with his program and had just three courses to go. He reported that he was still receiving calls from Prospero. "I can surely say he is the reason I am finally going to achieve the goal I started over 30 years ago."

When asked what made him finally make the leap and pursue his degree, Ralph explained that he wanted to be a good example. "I have been coaching high school basketball for over 20 years, and have been preaching about the importance of education. Some of my students went to college, and I feel good about that, but in the back of my mind I always ask, 'How am I doing this when I do not have a BA myself?' Most kids see me in this position and assume that I have a degree, and when they ask, I have to tell them, 'No, but I'm working on it.' In a few months, I can tell them, 'Yes, I have one.' I just hope they don't ask me how long it took!"

Ralph planned to graduate with his Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management in March 2011, and was excited about making the trip to Clinton, Iowa so he can participate in the graduation ceremony. "I cannot believe it sometimes that a kid coming out of Brooklyn who could barely read is earning a BA degree. And now I'm thinking about pursuing a Master's degree!" 

Update:

On April 30, 2011, Ralph walked across the stage in Clinton, Iowa and received his diploma. While in Clinton, he was able to meet up with Prospero, who was also graduating with his Bachelor’s degree. The pair had much to celebrate, and were thrilled to share the experience together. Congratulations, Ralph!