When it comes to commitment, John Hawk knows how to follow through. In addition to his 18 years of service in the U.S. Army, the 47-year-old resident of Hopewell, Virginia, has been on a dedicated pursuit of higher education at Ashford University* since 2014. In that time, he has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Operations Management and Analysis, a Master of Arts in Organizational Management with a specialization in Human Resources, and is on track to receive his Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Development and Leadership with a specialization in Organizational Diversity by the summer of 2021.
John originally chose to work toward his bachelor’s degree at Ashford University because one of his former co-workers had attended the school. But he credits Jill, his wife of 21 years, with his decision to continue climbing the educational ladder.
“She has always been my biggest supporter,” John says. “She told me to [pursue my doctorate] now while I am still motivated enough to finish it.”
During his first few online courses at Ashford, John was concerned that he wouldn’t meet the school’s expectations due to work and scheduling conflicts beyond his control.
“During field training exercises and deployments, the availability of Wi-Fi connections and the time needed to complete assignments were not always in keeping with my soldierly duties,” he says. “There were times that I had to plead with an instructor during an introductory course to allow me to continue the course, even though I had no access to the internet.”
John worked with Ashford to overcome logistical setbacks and worked hard to maintain high grades throughout the process. To stay on track, he utilized student resources such as Ashford University Library’s virtual and live librarian services as well as the Ashford Writing Center. He also plans to use the Career Services portal to help assist with post-military employment when he resigns in two years.
As for the quality of education, John praises Ashford for its curriculum and knowledgeable instructors.
“I believe the education I received through Ashford University would be very difficult for other colleges to match,” he says. “The professors were highly trained in their respective areas of expertise, and they always provided meaningful feedback which intrigued me to expand my research and expound upon my existing knowledge.”
Some of John’s favorite courses and instructors at Ashford include PSY 7512 Psychology of Leadership with Dr. Jennifer Cohea, OMM 618 Human Resources Management with Dr. Katie Thiry, BUS 670 Legal Environment with Dr. George Holbrook, and MGT 330 Management for Organizations with Professor Bill Davis.
In addition to his satisfaction with the quality of instruction and course content, John says he is also “delighted” with the “consistent communication” at Ashford.
“The instructors and my student advisor address my needs in a timely, professional manner,” he says. “It has been a blessing to have such a professional team of experts to assist me throughout my journey.”
Besides his coursework, John’s collegiate journey includes several noteworthy accomplishments and contributions to the greater Ashford community. In 2018, he served as vice president of the Ashford University Forbes School of Business and Technology Society for Human Resource Management’s virtual chapter. He also is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, as well as the SALUTE Veterans National Honor Society.
Today, John is an instructor of the Petroleum Supply Specialist course at the Petroleum and Water Department in Fort Lee, Virginia, and attributes his success at his job to his education at Ashford.
“I believe my success as an instructor is largely the result of my education and willingness to research that which is either questionable, or that which is ambiguous. I have become a much better critical thinker, problem solver, and overall, a more competent employee.”
Along with improved competency in his current position, John also notes significant growth in his self-confidence as well as greater potential for future career opportunities.
“I was once too shy to speak with educated people because of intimidation,” he says. “I now view it as a learning opportunity. I wholeheartedly believe that pursuing a college education will help me become more marketable in the workforce upon transition from the military to the civilian workforce, even if the career I work is not exactly consistent with my degree plans.”
On a personal level, John hopes his story inspires others, from his three children and his students, to future coworkers, supervisors, and even prospective college students.
“For those who think, ‘college is not for me,’ think again,” he says. “Ashford University can change the entire direction in which one travels through life.”
* Ashford University is now the University of Arizona Global Campus