Micheal Edwards thought he was content in his career, but a work conference changed his opinion. He sat in the audience and heard speaker after speaker being introduced with their title accompanying their name, and thought, “Why not me, too?”
Right out of high school, Micheal joined the workforce in the field of hospitality, working a variety of jobs, including front desk and management. Twelve years ago, he left that world behind for a position at Leidos, a Fortune 500® company that is a global leader in the integration and application of information technology, engineering, and science.
As someone with only a high school education at the time, he says he never thought he would end up in a career where he would not only dedicate time to his education, but crave it. Everything changed the day he received a simple email from a coworker introducing him to the University of Arizona Global Campus (UAGC).
“I was looking into going back to school to further my career with my company, and a coworker sent me a link,” he recalls. “The next thing I know, two weeks later…” With that, Micheal was enrolled. Thanks to his company’s partnership with UAGC, he received a full tuition grant. He says his decision to return to school as an adult is one he does not regret.
In March 2022, Micheal graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies* with a minor in Organizational Management. With his bachelor’s degree in-hand, Micheal earned an additional title at Leidos: health and safety coordinator. Currently an innovative channel coordinator, he is building his new title from the ground up. In his position, he currently oversees a program that helps to education elementary and high school students on energy efficiency. Now, he also will be overseeing a budget to assist with health and safety for issues like mold and mold, asbestos, and how to wire homes correctly. His team will also work with low-income families who qualify for their program to help them remediate those issues.
UAGC has made me a stronger individual, someone who wants to inspire others and who wants to dream more, wants to learn more, wants to do more.
His says his degree from UAGC enabled him to build onto a career he loves while educating and helping others in the process.
Micheal credits UAGC for motivating him to want to do more in his already busy life. His favorite quote by singer Dolly Parton encapsulates his hard work and positive attitude toward his education: “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are an excellent leader.”
A Balancing Act
Even with these accomplishments under his belt, Micheal says his journey is just getting started. His bachelor’s degree gave him not only a new title but also a new direction. With support and encouragement from his partner, Micheal is now pursuing a Master of Arts in Organizational Management from the Forbes School of Business and Technology® at UAGC and is expected to graduate this October.
Of course, reaching his goals required hard work and dedication. He says one of his biggest struggles was time management. Micheal returned to college at age 40, and like many students was challenged to juggle work, school, and family. Eventually, he came up with a solution that worked.
“I really had to force myself to understand and schedule everything out,” he explains. “My phone planner always has notifications going off. I work Monday through Friday, and I would wake up early to do homework before work so that the afternoon or the evening was family time.”
Thanks to his careful planning, he found he could balance it all – and even take on new responsibilities and make time for other passions. As president of the UAGC student organization Sigma Epsilon Kappa, Micheal oversees meetings and encourages members to remain active in their volunteer efforts.
On top of all that, Micheal manages a popular TikTok account he co-founded, which features the singing contest, “So you think you can karaoke.” Now in its fourth season, the weekly competition invites 15 contestants to perform a song live while viewers vote for their favorites.
“I have a busy life, and it was rough when I first started, but if anything, it has made me a much stronger person with my time,” he says.
Setting a Prime Example
Recently, Micheal and his partner became empty nesters. During his time at UAGC, Micheal’s house became a place that fostered a love of learning and demonstrated the benefits of education.
“Our home wasn’t like that in the beginning,” he said. “We would go with the flow. However, UAGC changed that, and it has been nothing but an amazing experience.”
Micheal says he likes to believe he played a role in his step-children’s educational pursuits. His stepdaughter is studying psychology and pre-med and already has an associate of science degree and a CNA certification, and his stepson is studying accounting.
“UAGC made me more enthusiastic about being involved,” he says. “I wanted to better myself and learn, and I knew I could do it. I also feel like I have set a prime example for my stepkids. I let them know that no matter what obstacles you face, put your mind to the grindstone. No matter what life throws, you can overcome. UAGC has made me a stronger individual, someone who wants to inspire others and who wants to dream more, wants to learn more, wants to do more.”
*This degree program is no longer accepting new enrollments.
Certain degree programs may not be available in all states.