Jackie McKennie

I wanted to show my children, and the soldiers I supervised as a Sergeant Major, that it is never too late.


Jackie McKennie


Jackie McKennie made the decision to pursue her college education years ago, when she was first starting her career in the military. However, with children to raise and a demanding military job, she found attending class to be a challenge. “Once online courses became a possibility, I again looked into earning my degree.” She chose Ashford University after her son, James Grady, who was attending himself, described his experience to her. At the time, she was an active duty army Sergeant Major.

Jackie now holds a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management degree from Ashford, and she has experienced career success because of it. After she retired from the military, her old position was posted as a civilian position; she competed against more than 60 applicants, went through the interview process, and was hired for the job.

Jackie said the most difficult challenge while pursuing her degree was staying focused on schoolwork while maintaining her role in the military. Jackie explained, “It was difficult to concentrate on my studies when I was constantly sending soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan, especially when James was in Afghanistan.” But Jackie remained determined and focused, and soon found that the people who she worried about were also her motivation. “I wanted to show my children, and the soldiers I supervised as a Sergeant Major, that it is never too late.”

She said that she was able to apply the lessons she learned from the courses to the workplace almost from day one. While still enrolled, Jackie said, “My life has changed…I learned to become a better manager of my soldiers.”

To anyone considering enrolling at Ashford, Jackie says, “Ashford is a university that caters not only to the military, but also to students as a whole. The instructors and fellow students are helpful - although we did not see each other, and only knew each other from the introductions we posted, there was a great camaraderie in the classes. We were all trying to help each other succeed.”

At age 58, Jackie was able to celebrate her accomplishment with her son as they participated in the ceremony in Clinton, IA together in April 2011. 

Link to James Grady's story

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