A high-achiever and determined student, Derek Walker made the choice to return to higher education with hopes to expand the scope of his future career opportunities and strengthen his personal brand.
“My decision to go back to school was just to advance myself, to become more well-rounded as an individual, and to build on some skill sets and my knowledge base to become a better leader in the future,” Derek says
The ideal opportunity to go back to school and earn a master’s degree presented itself at work one day. A T-Mobile employee for more than seven years, Derek first heard about Ashford* when a coworker mentioned the company’s participation in Ashford’s Full Tuition Grant program. With this program, T-Mobile’s tuition assistance benefits combine with a grant from Ashford to cover the cost of tuition and other associated costs of earning a degree.
“It was exciting to have an opportunity to go to a major university to pursue a master’s degree and do it in a way that [was] very affordable,” says Derek. “I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t pass up the option of getting my master’s degree at almost no cost.”
Derek enrolled in the Master of Arts in Organizational Management program at the Forbes School of Business and Technology™. He found the online format fit with his hectic schedule. Derek is a Social Media Trainer at T-Mobile, so he travels often and has to work unusual hours.
“I needed something that was going to be flexible to my schedule,” Derek explains. “In my line of business, I could be up at 5:00 in the morning working with Maine or I could be up until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning working with Honolulu. I travel quite a bit, so attending a university that’s only located on a campus wasn’t going to work. With Ashford, it allowed me to be anywhere. Whether on a boat in the Caribbean or buried in a blizzard where I live in Colorado Springs, I was able to take classes on my time.”
To stay on top of all his responsibilities at work and school, Derek adhered to a strict schedule. “I always made sure Sundays and Mondays were reserved for my major assignments that were due,” Derek says. “Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays were my discussion posts. I just had to stay disciplined.”
All of that discipline paid off in 2017 when Derek graduated and attended Ashford’s commencement ceremony in San Diego. He reports that his new master’s degree is already paying dividends.
“Based on what I learned while I was a student here, I’m actually interviewing for a senior management position,” Derek says. “I continue to grow and develop within the company. I love T-Mobile!”
He also offers some advice to anyone who’s thinking about going back to school to earn a new degree.
“It’s not easy, but it’s worth it,” Derek says. “Never stop learning because someone else isn’t passing up the opportunity and is learning and you want to be sure you’re keeping pace with those who are driving to succeed.”
* Ashford University is now the University of Arizona Global Campus