Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management, 2009
Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning with Technology, 2011
“I have an increased sense of confidence in my job and how I approach any new or existing tasks at work or at home."
In his early 20s, Ray Crowley joined the US Navy, where he worked with computers and aviation electronics for 17 years, then rounded out his 20-year career as an instructor. “The Navy allowed me to ‘see the world,’ and I would never trade that for a minute, but as I approached retirement, I knew I had to earn my degree before I could re-establish myself in the civilian sector. I loved being an instructor, so I decided that training and development would be the foundation of my second career.”
Ray did some research and found that several universities maintained classrooms on Navy bases; in 1997, he enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Education, Training, and Development offered by Southern Illinois University. “There was only one problem - this program only fulfilled the upper-level requirements.” Ray completed all upper-level coursework for that degree before separating from the Navy in 1999, but without the lower-level courses he did not have a Bachelor’s degree.
Following retirement, Ray and his family moved to San Diego, California. His experience was enough to secure him a position as a Navy Contractor and Training Lead, which eventually led to his current employment with SAIC. For nine years, his goal of finishing his college degree was pushed to the back burner. “Then, after years of earning a minimum pay raise despite my opinion that my performance spoke for itself, it finally dawned on me: I needed to finish my degree.”
In 2008, Ray began researching his options, and he found Ashford University’s online program. He chose Ashford largely because he was able to transfer in military and technical education credits, and because of his Admissions Counselor, Gary Madsen. “Gary stayed in touch during my first few classes, keeping me motivated. I might still be looking for and finding excuses not to finish my degree if it weren’t for him.”
In April 2009, Ray achieved his goal and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management, and the experience has turned Ray into an advocate for online education. “I tell everyone who asks me that earning my degree online was probably more difficult than a traditional classroom because it required me to work independently. There’s something to be said for doing it on your own; it brings an even bigger sense of accomplishment when the class is over and you know that you earned your grade with hard work and research all by yourself.”
Ray was so impressed with online learning that he decided to pursue a graduate degree with Ashford as well. A few months after completing his undergraduate degree, Ray enrolled in the Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning with Technology online degree program. “It was a natural choice for me, especially given my background as a technical instructor and manager.” When we last spoke to Ray, he was diligently working through the Master’s program, and said he plans to continue working for SAIC. “I am hopeful of a promotion to Training Director upon finishing my Master’s degree.” Ray said he is also considering teaching online. “At a recent Ashford Alumni luncheon, I was asked if I would be interested in being an adjunct online instructor. I was shocked at the invite, but immediately responded with a resounding, ‘Yes!’”
When reflecting on his experience with Ashford, Ray points to the pride that comes with academic success. “I realized that I could push myself hard enough as an individual to learn and succeed with my educational choices. I have seen firsthand just how important and tough an education is to earn. Many of my fellow classmates have families and responsibilities beyond their own educational goals, but, somehow, we’re all able to stay focused.” As an explanation of where that focus comes from, Ray quotes his favorite musician and guitarist, Frank Zappa: “Never stop until good becomes better, and your better becomes the best!”
Ray also reports that his education has had a measurable effect on his professional life. “I have an increased sense of confidence in my job and how I approach any new or existing tasks at work or at home. Earning my Bachelor’s degree was the beginning; completing my Master’s degree will show my peers and supervisors that I have what it takes to set a goal and achieve its success.”
Ray completed the Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning with Technology program in June 2011 with a 4.0 GPA. A few months later, he told us, "Ashford has been and continues to be an approachable University from every office I encounter. It's the kind of school people are proud to say they attended, and the kind of school you would want your children to attend." Ashford is just as proud to have inspirational alumni like Ray.