Ashford University has allowed me, a working wife and mom, to obtain a degree that not only will secure my current contract but open doors for the future.


Cheryl Brown and her teenage son have a running bet: at the end of each month, if he beats her GPA, she has to pay him $100. So far, she’s only lost once.

“It was on a technicality since we had a tie,” jokes Brown, who has maintained a 4.0 while attending Ashford University on the Smart Track program. The plan allows eligible students to enroll in up to nine applicable credits to apply toward a bachelor’s degree and accelerate completion of a master’s degree. On the Smart Track, Brown received her Bachelor of Arts in Entrepreneurship in 2018 and is already on her way toward earning her Master of Business Administration with an Entrepreneurship Specialization. 

The healthy competition has proven beneficial to Brown and her family, which includes her husband, as well as two sons and two stepsons ranging in age from 25 to three. 

“They are inspired by my choice to return to school, and I hope to show them that if I can do it with all the adult responsibilities I have, they can too,” she says.

Although pursuing a degree at this stage of her life was not her original goal, Brown made the decision when she was faced with losing her job as a government contracting advisor. In this position, she has worked with roughly 2,500 small businesses resulting in over $350 million in government contracts, and forfeiting the contract was not an option.

“I had two choices: have my current contract cancelled, one that I had been working on since 2007, or go back to school,” she explains.

Because her role with the client required not only a bachelor’s degree but an MBA too, Brown applied to Ashford University at the recommendation of a friend and now is on schedule to receive her graduate degree in June 2019.    

What began as a quest to retain her client, however, has turned into a rewarding journey full of several unexpected outcomes. This year, Brown was the recipient of two scholarships. As a result of her GPA, she earned the Sigma Beta Delta Fellowship Award from the International Honor Society for Business, Management and Administration. She also earned the Forbes School of Business & Technology Entrepreneurship Scholarship for a business plan she proposed for The B2G Group, which provides assistance and support to the small business community in the pursuit of securing government contracts. 

Receiving the funds to help pay for her academic endeavors was a welcomed relief for Brown, but perhaps even more surprising is what she discovered about herself along the way. First, she found online school to be the perfect setting for her busy lifestyle.

“If I had to go to a brick-and-mortar classroom, I never would have made it through to completion,” she confesses. “Ashford University has allowed me, a working wife and mom, to obtain a degree that not only will secure my current contract but open doors for the future.”

Throughout her studies, Brown says she has heavily relied on the Ashford Writing Center, tutoring services, and the Ashford Library and found them to be valuable resources. She also commends the faculty and staff for their assistance.

“I have found the support from administration to be superb and the faculty to be willing to assist and support at every corner,” she adds.

As Brown nears the completion of her studies, she also realized that the road ahead may be taking a different turn than she had initially anticipated.

“I feel like I am no longer pigeon-holed, and once I graduate with my MBA, I may seek to pursue a faculty position within the community college districts … or maybe return the favor by becoming an instructor for Ashford University.”

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