Sam Hess

Ashford’s online format allowed me to be there for the people who matter most in my life.


Sam Hess’ path in life took him around the world and back to his hometown of San Diego, where he and his wife had settled into a neighborhood less than one mile from his childhood home. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in marketing and a teaching credential, he was enjoying a comfortable career working for the King-Chavez Neighborhood of Schools.

But Sam wanted more. He wanted control over his future and the ability to enrich his life and the lives of his students. During a period of “self-reflection” he decided it was time to pursue a Master’s degree.

“I realized that I had to lead by example if I ever wanted to bring out the best in others,” Sam said, adding that a Master’s would give him, “the skills to be able to provide my students with a deep understanding of the curriculum, as well as help develop them into lifelong learners.”

Seeing that Ashford University offered the opportunity to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning  with Technology online, Sam applied and was thrilled to find out that he’d not only been accepted, but he’d also been awarded Ashford’s Teacher Appreciation Scholarship.

“It seemed that Ashford and I were meant for one another,” he said. “This program offered me a perfect blend of taking my existing experiences and merging them with new pedagogies to add to my personal philosophy.”

As a teacher, Sam was eager to see how his peers performed in the online setting. He admitted some apprehension toward a learning experience conducted entirely outside of a classroom, but said he came to know his instructors as if they were face-to-face every day.

“Dr. Stefanie Lassiter was my instructor for EDU 658 Instructional Leadership. [She] stood out as a favorite because of the way she made herself available, would scaffold her lessons, and set her students up to be successful,” he said.

“You recognize the hard work and dedication it takes to go the extra mile, and you really appreciate when you see it in practice.”

When asked to sum up the online learning experience, Sam described it as, “Laying the foundations of my future one digital connection at a time.”

Sam wasn’t the first Ashford student to pursue his degree while working a full-time job, but he experienced a unique life-changing event just after he started taking classes: the birth of his first child, Julian.

The pressures of juggling work, school, and a baby could have been too much for him to handle. But Sam didn’t miss a beat, and said his classes were structured in way that allowed him to maximize the time he spent at home with his family.

“You just can’t put a value on that!” he said. “Ashford’s online format allowed me to be there for the people who matter most in my life.”

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