October 4, 2023

Faculty support helps Richardson finish what he started

Deric RichardsonAt some point, most of us have to tackle unfinished business.

In 2006, Deric Richardson decided to do just that.

“With retirement looming, I realized that it was finally time to finish what I had started over 18 years ago– my bachelor’s degree,” said Richardson, a 40-year-old former firefighter who now serves in the Georgia National Guard with the 78th Homeland Response Force.

“CSU’s online fire science degree program seemed like the perfect fit. CSU’s flexible schedule allowed me to attend class when I wanted to—not be a slave to a school schedule. It allowed me to think freely, on my terms with fantastic support from the professors.”

In fact, the faculty’s support and knowledge are things the 2010 CSU alumnus enjoyed most about attending CSU. “The professors were subject matter experts in their fields. They brought all that experience to bear in a great learning atmosphere,” Richardson explained.

The Douglasville, Ga., native also chose CSU for several practical reasons such as maximum transfer credit. “As a former firefighter, my civilian equivalent education and background seemed like a good fit with this degree program. CSU transferred a lot of my civilian experience into college credit so I would not get bogged down taking elective classes that really don’t apply to my degree program,” Richardson said.

A father and husband, Richardson also managed his job online school. “Obviously, one must be a great manager of one’s time when taking online classes,” he said.

“I had to be self-motivated (which I always have been) in order to complete the courses in a timely manner. This fit my personality well, as I like interacting with people, but didn’t need the hassle of attending class at a traditional ‘brick and mortar’ institution.” Richardson added that he enjoyed interacting with fellow CSU students who came from all walks of life and experience levels in their respective fields.

Richardson’s self-motivation also has paid off in other ways.

After working as a firefighter for six years, he joined the Georgia Army National Guard in 2004 in the 190th Military Police Company. He moved on to several other positions before attaining his current position as a Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, Nuclear and High Yield Explosive (CBRNE) non-commissioned officer (sergeant first class). Along the way, Richardson earned several awards including a Meritorious Service Medal (May 2010), distinguished honor graduate of U.S. Army Chemical School (October 2007) and the George S. Patton Leadership Award, Army Non-Commissioned Officer Academy (October 2008).

One motivating factor that Richardson said aided his pursuit of a bachelor’s degree was military incentive.

“My job in the military rewards me with promotion points for post-secondary education. This motivated me to exceed the standards and strive for more promotion points in order to best my peers when it comes time for promotion,” he explained. “This additional 75 promotion points is frequently the difference between being first and last on the promotion list.”

Richardson’s drive to achieve his degree wasn’t all about him and the job. “… I feel I am setting a good example for my 13-year-old son. I want him to do college the traditional way (right after high school), but my attendance late in life demonstrated to him the advantages of getting it early.”

And he offers this sage advice to future CSU students: “If you are in the military, leverage all the benefits that you are entitled to by virtue of your service to our country. There is really no excuse for someone to spend time in the military and not reap these education benefits.

“Depending on your time in service, there is no reason that a military member could not leave service with at least an associate degree. If you feel like you need a break, take a short one. Don’t let time get away from you and stay focused on the end state. Once you graduate, you will feel a sense of accomplishment like no other feeling you could experience.”

And one more piece of unfinished business will be complete.