I would have never thought that I would finally be in a position to achieve my dreams.
For Bonnie Nieves, a job had always been just a job. As a military spouse with a husband serving in the Coast Guard, she’d moved several times in her life, and although she managed to find work, she never gained a sense of fulfillment.
“Many times I was just embarrassed to see the enthusiasm and excitement when people learn what my husband does, and when they asked about me there wasn’t anything noble or interesting to tell,” she said.
Every time her husband received orders for a new assignment, Bonnie thought she would get another chance to return to school and earn a Bachelor’s degree. But her excitement often turned to disappointment when she realized none of the nearby colleges offered more than an Associate’s degree, or she found it impossible to transfer her credits to the closest four-year schools.
“Constantly moving and starting over, I had never been able to finish school or become established in a job that I could be proud of,” Bonnie said. “I decided to just move along and wait for it to be my turn for success, but it seemed as if my turn was never coming.”
Due to circumstances beyond her control, Bonnie found herself unemployed. That’s when she decided it was time to stop waiting and put an end to excuses. In 2013 she applied to Ashford University online, and took advantage of the Ashford Military Grant, which reduces tuition for members of the military and their spouses.
When Bonnie and her husband adopted a son during her first year at Ashford, she knew there was no turning back.
“I needed to be employable; I needed to be able to support our family in case anything should happen to my husband,” she said. “Since I started at Ashford, my family has been through deployments leaving me to care for our son alone. However, online learning provided me with the flexibility that our lifestyle demands.”
During her time at Ashford, Bonnie earned invitations to the Golden Key International Honour Society and Alpha Sigma Lambda. She said Ashford’s online format made school convenient and predictable, allowing her time to care for her child while her husband was away.
“I never thought I’d be able to finish my degree, but Ashford provided me the support and flexibility to make that possible,” she said.
Two years after starting her degree program, Bonnie took the stage with her fellow graduates at Ashford’s Spring 2015 commencement ceremony in Moline, Ill. She said her Bachelor’s degree in Education Studies with a specialization in Child Development has made her a better mother, and she plans to work toward a Master’s degree with a goal of graduating in 2016.
“Finishing my Bachelor’s degree has given me confidence and something I can be proud of,” Bonnie said. “When people ask me about [school], I am proud to tell them about my education and that I have even started graduate school. I would have never thought that I would finally be in a position to achieve my dreams.”