Eric Puryear is a busy man.

This husband and dad of four maintains a packed schedule of his career, extracurriculars, school, and fatherhood every single day. He attributes this balancing act to always being present and aware, no matter where he is.

“If you’re at work, you’re focused on work stuff, and you’re making sure you’re doing business there,” he explains. “Whether it’s volunteering, coaching, whatever else I’m doing, I try to be as present in the moment as possible.”

A Calling in Sales Management

When it comes to being present at work, his focus has predominantly been on sales. In fact,      it was Eric’s destiny from a young age. He started selling flowers on a street corner in Tacoma, WA, at age 12 to earn money during the spring holidays. He continued in sales and, after high school, worked as a car salesman into his early 20s until he joined the wireless carrier corporation UScellular™ as a sales consultant in 2006. Since then, he has been working his way up the ladder.

“I just really fell in love with sales, and the psychology of sales,” he says.

Throughout his career, Eric has held positions ranging from sales manager to store manager, business development manager, agent sales development manager, agent development manager, and finally, retail area sales manager. He currently oversees the entire Nebraska market for UScellular, and he hopes to use his degree from UAGC to prepare him for his next position.

“Eventually I’d like to move up in the company,” he explains. ‘The next step would be a director of sales, where I would lead a whole region. Right now, I cover all of Nebraska. I have 10 stores, 10 store managers, and about 70 sales reps underneath me.”

Always On the Move

Due to his widespread work locations, Eric often drives for his job. His home base is Grand Island, NE, but he commutes long distances weekly, covering the entire state of Nebraska and select cities in Iowa on his route.

Eric knows that staying organized and present is the key to maintaining a disciplined schedule. To keep up his grades — where he has made the Dean’s List every quarter since he became eligible — he uses a single Outlook calendar to manage his many tasks. He also utilizes the UAGC Writing Center, and checks his class rubrics often to ensure complete submissions.

He fits in his studies in between work obligations, usually in his downtime while traveling.

“It takes a lot of planning, a lot of organizing, a lot of schoolwork out of a hotel,” he says. “Normally there’s one or two nights a week I’m on the road. It’s a large territory, so I do find myself traveling quite a bit.”

Luckily, it’s not all on-the-go demands. When he works from home, he attends meetings and company calls, where he disperses information to his team remotely. This makes accomplishing his tasks at home easier.

“I have set days of the week that I dedicate a couple of hours to schoolwork,” he says. “I put that on my calendar, and that’s set in stone. It’s making sure that school tasks a priority, but it doesn’t take over your life. It needs to stay in those parameters as well.”

While he takes time each week to dedicate himself strictly to school, his other hobbies include coaching Little League and football, woodworking, and cooking. When he’s not doing those, he takes his family and explores the country. His keen interests in hiking, fishing, and outdoor activities fill the leisure hours in between all his commitments.

There have been several times where I’ve been able to learn something one week and implement it either that week or immediately thereafter, because it’s very relevant to what I do every day.

In the time since he’s started his degree program, Eric has also moved twice. Luckily, his academic commitments align with his workflow. He enjoys that some of his lessons directly translate into real-life scenarios right away, meaning that he sees immediate payoff from his UAGC studies in his busy life. 
“There’s things I learn for leadership, or business acumen, even all the way down to scheduling your time out,” he says. “There have been several times where I’ve been able to learn something one week and implement it either that week or immediately thereafter, because it’s very relevant to what I do every day.”

His career progression also means that he gets to flex his favorite skills on a regular basis.

“My favorite part of my job is doing the trainings, hosting sales development workshops, things like that,” he says. “That’s where I really feel like I get to use some of my fun skills that I don’t get to use everyday.”

Support Systems Across the Board

As a testament to the social nature of his career responsibilities, one of Eric’s favorite aspects of online learning is the opportunity to meet and interact with new people, especially from the US military. A recent group project with a military member furthered his respect and inspiration for his academic peers.

“I’m not one, but I’ve got a lot of veterans in my family. It’s just another way to display the diversity of UAGC,” he says. “It was really cool to get to know them on a different level. They do so much for us, so it’s really cool that we get to learn alongside them.”

He sees support in his home base as well, as Eric says that his kids are his biggest fans. His three adult children all live out of state, while his 11-year-old son is the last one at home. They encouraged him to enter his current program, and understand the demanding nature of studying for his degree.

“I’ve got an amazing, supportive family,” he says, “and they know that if I’m in my office doing schoolwork, that’s Dad’s time.”

The whole family will celebrate together the weekend after his upcoming June commencement ceremony.

UAGC Student Eric Puryear and family

Education in the Future

Eric’s career path helped him discover one of his callings in life: educating others.

“As I get older, I love sales, but I love teaching sales and helping new people learn that it really isn’t that hard, and you don’t have to be a dummy to be a salesperson, he says. “If you do it the right way, you’re helping people get things that they need.”

While his career has seen several successful roles, this is his first venture into higher education. He will receive his Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management with an emphasis in Cognitive Studies in June 2024.      

Eric connects critical thinking skills to the knowledge he’s acquiring in his academic journey and uses it to his advantage in his present career.

“It’s really helped shape the way I look at issues, problems, leadership, the business in general,” he says.

As a proud UAGC Honor Society member, the principle of civic engagement is also at the forefront, especially with his office team.

“It really has given me a bigger picture of our responsibilities to our communities as a whole, versus just my co-team and my local things,” he says. “It gives me a better outlook.”

Eric intends to pursue a master’s degree in the future, and even plans to work toward a professor role after his time in sales is complete.

“I could see myself, after I run my course in the business world, looking at giving back a little bit and trying to get on as a professor at an online university,” he expresses. “It would be a really cool job and a cool way to finish my career.”

Between juggling his family and dozens of colleagues, Eric advises other professionals in his position to be honest.

“Be honest and truthful in everything you do, and be yourself,” he says. “People will respect you better for being your true self, rather than trying to be someone different.”


Certain degree programs may not be available in all states.

Student success stories should not be interpreted as a promise or guarantee of career advancement or future earnings. The stories shared here represent the outcomes of individual students for illustrative purposes only.

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