Jay Birtch

The professors were very passionate about their subjects and ensured we took the time to research the materials.

Jay Birtch


Ashford alumnus Jay Birtch wanted a degree he could use to bring together a lifetime of experience – a sizeable task since he has been a serviceman in the USAF for 22 years, working in the Special Purpose Vehicle and Equipment unit. His service has taken him around the globe, experiencing new cultures in places ranging from England to Guam. 

When considering his lifetime of service and experience, Jay decided becoming a teacher would be a perfect eventual goal, so he enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Social Science with an Education concentration program*. “I really enjoy social studies and decided I wanted to be an elementary school teacher to share my experiences with young people.” 

As an active serviceman, pursuing the degree required some new thinking about education. “Ashford University was my first opportunity to try distance learning, and I did so while deployed to Afghanistan in 2009.” He quickly took to the online classroom environment where he could interact with teachers and email other students for support. “The professors were very passionate about their subjects and ensured we took the time to research the materials.” Jay accessed his classrooms everywhere from Afghanistan to North Dakota to South Korea, and at his current location at the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. 

A major source of motivation has been Jay’s four children, who, along with his USAF service, keep him quite busy. “It made for long days, but it was critical I finished my classwork so they could see that hard work pays off.” 

Much like in his career, Jay has distinguished himself while earning his degree, recently graduating Magna Cum Laude and earning membership to the SALUTE National Honor Society. With these accomplishments, he is now poised to begin earning his teaching certificate. 

This long path to teaching K-8 will be near completion once he retires from the USAF in 2014. Retirement, however, won’t truly end his lifetime of service. “I plan to continue to serve the Department of Defense by teaching in the DoDEA school system supporting military families around the world.” Thank you for your continued service, Jay. Congratulations! 

*This program was replaced with the Bachelor of Arts in Education Studies.

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