Online Education Model Shapes Tomorrow's Leaders
21st century technology paves way for Ashford University graduates
South Dakota’s first secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, a global Fortune 100 company's top executive, and a Colorado chief of police have something in common – all three turned to Ashford University's 21st century online education model to advance their careers and become leaders in their fields.
The online model allows students to enhance their education with accessibility and flexibility. Ashford University uses innovative technology to provide online degree programs, with the mission of developing foundational leadership values, such as self-worth, creativity, interdependence, service, integrity and effectiveness.
The mission resonated with Larry Zimmerman, a top enlisted member of the South Dakota National Guard. He became the first official secretary of the state’s new Department of Veterans Affairs on Jan. 9, 2013, just two days after completing his bachelor’s degree in business and organizational management from Ashford University and, coincidentally, on his 59th birthday.
In his new leadership role, Zimmerman oversees more than 100 employees and leads the department responsible for ensuring South Dakota’s 70,000 veterans are receiving the right benefits and opportunities.
When asked what led him to pursue higher education after 29 years in the Army National Guard, Zimmerman said he aspired to set an example for his five grandchildren. “I had to show my grandkids the importance of an education,” he said. “Considering my extensive travel with the Army National Guard, I wouldn’t have been able to get a degree without the accessibility of online education. It worked for me and my career. Recently, I utilized my education to develop a mission statement and write a strategic plan for the new department.”
An assistant vice president within the Securities and Lending Division at JP Morgan Chase, Kaveen Benedict earned his Ashford University master's degree with an information systems specialization at the age of 36. The 2012 graduate was working full-time when he took online classes and credits the university with helping him keep a “healthy work-family-study balance.”
“Online education is the way of the future,” said Benedict. “I used new tools, such as the Ashford mobile app, to post assignments and discussions at any time and from any location. My education has given me the tools for managing larger teams and to fast forward my career.”
John Dyer, a seasoned law enforcement professional with 25 years of experience, earned a bachelor's degree in organizational management from Ashford. Soon after, he was promoted to chief of police in Rifle, Colo.
Like millions of working Americans, Dyer wanted to pursue higher education but was limited by choices. "I wouldn't have been able to make the move up to chief without the degree and would never have been able to fit coursework into my schedule without online education."
As a leader and mentor to his staff of 22, Dyer continually stresses the importance of education. "I tell sergeants and everyone I come in contact with – you have to think three steps ahead to achieve your goals."
Zimmerman’s, Benedict’s and Dyer's preference for online higher learning parallels a national trend. According to a recent national consumer poll by Penn Schoen Berland on behalf of Ashford University, more than 60 percent of adults between the ages of 35 and 48 say online degree programs provide a more realistic learning environment that mimics today’s work culture than traditional campus programs.
Technology makes it possible for students of all ages and backgrounds to advance their careers and become leaders in their fields.
About Ashford University
Ashford University is defining the modern college experience by combining the heritage of a traditional campus with the flexibility and effectiveness of online learning. The University provides a vibrant learning community where high-quality programs and leading-edge technology create a dynamic, immersive and stimulating learning experience. The University offers practical and progressive associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs online, as well as bachelor’s degree programs at its Clinton, Iowa, campus. Ashford University – where heritage meets innovation. For more information, please visit www.ashford.edu or call Shari Winet Rodriguez, vice president of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.