Don Woolley

That first class punctuated all of the reasons why humans should never stop learning and how the benefits are substantial no matter how old you are.


Unlike most working adults who choose to pursue higher education goals online, Don Woolley had no intention to use his degree for a promotion. As a partner in a land surveying and civil engineering firm he has been in for over 20 years, Don’s goals were less tangible, but just as valid. “I completed this degree because it was an empty spot in my persona, and I needed to do this for myself.” 

However, Don’s initial story, which he shared with us at an Ashford student and alumni networking event in his hometown of San Diego, is similar to that of many adult learners. In his 20s, he’d dropped out of college to take an entry-level position. “I grew in my career without having a degree, but it took a lot longer than it would have – and it still did not change the gnawing disappointment I felt over not having a degree.”

Don admits that over the course of 35 years, he had amassed credits at various colleges toward a technical degree. However, he came to realize that he’d rather focus on improving as manager. “I wanted to better understand management from a theoretical standpoint and see what I was doing right as well as what I was doing wrong.” 

He eventually chose the Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management program at Ashford University, a school he calls “much more organized and structured” than the other universities that offered online courses he’d dabbled in previously. “The first class I took sold the rest of the program. That first class punctuated all of the reasons why humans should never stop learning and how the benefits are substantial no matter how old you are.” 

Don was even able to apply the knowledge he was gaining in a way he didn’t anticipate, when he was involved in starting up a new department at his firm. “What I was learning at Ashford directly related to what I was trying to accomplish, and it helped me to keep moving forward and slowly build a successful department.” 

Don also feels his courses have helped him achieve his goal of improving in his written communication and business writing. Additionally, the program "has opened my eyes to think more outside of the box as well as recognize how technology is changing how business is done.” Finally, Don relishes being able to deliver on his long-running promise to his daughter that he would finish his degree before she did! 

For now, Don is happily applying his improved confidence and skillset to his job, but eventually, he may consider pursuing a Master’s degree at Ashford so he can teach courses in his field after he retires. “I want to give back to this profession that has been good to me in so many ways.”

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