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Having the credentials, that’s proof, and nobody can steal your proof.

Christopher Kennerly


When Christopher Kennerly needed guidance or assistance in the Air Force, he would rely on the nearest subject-matter expert or SME. The term (pronounced “Smeee”) applies to anyone with expertise in a particular field. For Kennerly, who recently retired after 20 years of service, becoming a SME required a degree from the Forbes School of Business® at Ashford University.

“Having the credentials, that’s proof, and nobody can steal your proof,” Kennerly said at Ashford’s 2015 Commencement Weekend.

The Oklahoma City resident owns a fitness company, but after graduating with his Bachelor of Arts in Sports and Recreation Management, he plans to open a gym.

“I wanted the professional credentials, as well as the knowledge,” Kennerly said of his degree. “In the world of fitness, having the degrees and certifications, and things of that nature, makes me a legitimate subject matter expert. And the Ashford degree makes it ever more solid.”

Kennerly started at Ashford in 2009 while he was stationed at the Pentagon, taking advantage of the Ashford Military Grant and other benefits available to active duty and veteran students. He admitted that finishing school took “a little longer than expected” but he praised Ashford’s online format for keeping him on schedule and allowing him to plan his assignments and see his discussion topics ahead of time.

“It really made it easy to learn, because you knew what was getting ready to happen before it happened, so you could plan your life around things. When you can see what’s getting ready to come you can plan accordingly.”

Kennerly’s goal is to “get the world fit, one person at a time,” and said his success will motivate him even further. He added that anyone could reach a similar goal if they just set aside excuses and go for it.

“If you don’t want it, then go have a seat, and let somebody else do it,” he said. “If you decide that you want to stay at the average level, then don’t ask anybody else for help. As much as you keep thinking about it, there are people passing you by.”

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