It’s a challenging world out there and you want to be ahead of it.
A few years ago, Gayle Mitchell took a hard look at her resume and realized it was seriously unbalanced. She had been working for many years and had amassed significant professional experience. But for all of the on-the-job knowledge she had acquired over the years, she was still lacking a college degree. Gayle began to feel like this hole in her resume put her at a competitive disadvantage.
“With the advent of the housing boom, I think kids stayed in school and education became almost mainstream,” Gayle says. “So if you look out there, almost every individual has some type of degree and a bachelor’s is like the minimum. You see a lot of master’s degrees and quite a few PhDs. I had zero, so I had to start.”
Although she lacked a degree, Gayle did have some higher education under her belt. Just after high school, Gayle was recruited to play softball on a full ride scholarship at the University of Southern Mississippi. After her freshman year, she took a summer job with every intention of returning to school in the fall. She then found out her softball team was switching to a fast-pitch format that she didn’t like. So when September rolled around, Gayle opted to stay at her job and not return to school.
“I stayed working there for 13 years,” Gayle says. “I disappointed my mother, I think, a little bit. Before she died, one of the things she wanted me to do was go back to college.”
It took 30 years, but Gayle was finally able to fulfill her mother’s wish and plug the hole in her otherwise impressive resume. The right opportunity presented itself at work. Gayle is a Senior Manager of Sales Training Delivery at T-Mobile. While eating lunch one day, one of her coworkers asked her if she’d heard of Ashford University and the Leader Development Grant* Ashford provides to T-Mobile employees. The grant combines with T-Mobile’s tuition assistance benefits to cover the costs of earning a degree at Ashford. Gayle researched Ashford and talked to other coworkers who were attending the school.
“The people who were in it really had lovely things to say about how easy it was to register and get involved,” Gayle says. “And then there was the Leader Development Grant* program which also piqued my interest. So Ashford was the school of choice for me.”
She enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management degree program. Thanks to her previous college classes and her years of professional experience, Gayle was able to transfer in credits and get a head start on her degree. With the support of her family, coworkers, and the team at Ashford, Gayle was able to fit college into her busy life.
“So I was able to balance work, school, and all those other activities, but it wasn’t easy,” Gayle says. “I had to set aside some specific days that I knew I had to make sure I was spending time studying and doing homework. But I’m pretty structured and super dedicated to this.”
All of that dedication paid off in 2017 when Gayle earned her bachelor’s degree and participated in Ashford’s commencement ceremony in San Diego. Now that she has filled in that education hole in her resume, Gayle is thinking about building on her academic success and returning to Ashford for a Master of Business Administration degree.
“I want to come to the table well-prepared: a lot of first-hand, real world experience, but I also wanted to have that educational experience behind me because it demonstrates that, although it took me forever to get my degree, I was persistent and I stayed with it,” Gayle explains. “I would encourage everybody to get on the computer, log in, find out as much as you can, and then go ahead and enroll and start your future. It’s a challenging world out there and you want to be ahead of it.”
* Now known as Full Tuition Grant