Ty Smith: From the BattleField to the Boardroom
Many Ashford University* students go from jobs to family to schoolwork all in the course of one busy day, but Navy SEAL Ty Smith sometimes fought the Taliban in Afghanistan for 18 hours and then debriefed his team before hitting the books for the day.
“It would literally be an hour between fighting the Taliban and transitioning to classes at Ashford University,” he says.
But the flexibility of Ashford’s technology and professors—along with Ty’s tenacity—made it work.
“I learned that Ashford had done a good job of streamlining the process and the portal was easy to navigate,” he says. “Once I got into a rhythm, I thought it was perfect and exactly what I needed, especially being on active duty. I was able to access my reading material from anywhere, be it laptop, iPhone, iPad. It was amazing.”
Growing up in East St. Louis, Illinois, Ty never planned to go to college.
“When I was in high school, not even once did any of my teachers or counselors ask whether I wanted to go to college one day,” he says. “I knew the military was my way out of that life.”
Although he had a rewarding military career, he knew he needed to plan his next move. Not entirely sure what to major in, he decided on Organizational Management and quickly found it not only to be a great fit but challenging to boot.
“The quality of the education was amazing,” he says. “The professors would always ask me to delve a little deeper. It was kind of contagious because the more I interacted with the professors and the students, the more I learned.”
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Ashford sparked a love of education, particularly for business, that led Ty—the first male in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree—to continue his education at the University of Southern California (USC), Marshall School of Business. There he found his Ashford coursework prepared him for challenging graduate curriculum.
“Even at a school as distinguished as USC, I found I had already scratched the surface of [my graduate coursework] in my undergrad at Ashford,” he says. “Ashford isn’t somewhere where you can just stroll in and walk out with a degree. They did a really good job of preparing me for grad school by keeping me honest and making me work.”
Since graduating from USC, Ty started his own business, CommSafe AI, a San Diego-based security consulting and risk mitigation company with a focus on workplace violence prevention.
“I started from scratch two years ago and now we’re negotiating major contracts with Fortune 500 companies,” he says. “Before I went to Ashford, I knew the structure of a military organization, especially the minutia of special operations organizations, but as far as a corporate entity, I had no idea. Every day I find myself using lessons I learned at Ashford.”
* Ashford University is now the University of Arizona Global Campus