For many, time and opportunity are perhaps the biggest obstacles to pursuing a degree.
This was especially true for the Wade family—Robert, wife Mary and son Justin—who all graduated together at the Oct. 21 graduation ceremonies.
When Robert Wade came to work at CSU as travel representative four years ago, he decided to seek a bachelor’s degree in business. Immediately after high school, Wade joined the Marine Corps and served as a recruiter for 22 years.
“Between the Marines, moving around and family, it was hard to find the time to get a degree,” he explained.
Likewise for Mary, who after graduating high school, attended a community college in Hampton, Va., for a little over a year.
“During that time, I met Robert and we got married. He was in the Marines and we got orders to go to North Carolina,” she said. “When we got there, I looked into going to a small college, but was disappointed to find that the credit hours I had already completed were not going to completely transfer and I knew we would not be there long enough to start over again and finish.
“Then, several moves later, Robert retired from the Marine Corps and went to work for CSU. Part of his pitch to me about accepting this job was that both of us could go back to school and finish our degrees online. He always felt bad that I never finished because of all the moving we had to do,” Mary, who lives with Robert in Pensacola, said.
So in October 2009, she enrolled in CSU to pursue an associate degree. Soon after, so did son Justin.
Although he started classes at the University of Kentucky, Justin was unable to finish. The Marine recruiter struggled with finding time to complete a degree.
“CSU is a good fit for me. I have a job, wife and baby and after hearing Dad talk about it, I thought I would give it a try,” Justin, who lives in Kentucky, explained.
“I stressed importance of education for us all, we all had started college, but had not finished our degrees and CSU gave us this opportunity,” added Robert.
While the three did not study together because of degree plans and distance, the family did enjoy the experience. But as with family, there were some “frustrating” moments. “I would always hear from Robert, ’Have you done your school work yet?’ or if I was taking a break between classes, it would be: ‘So when are you starting your next class?’” Mary joked. “But for the most part, it was exciting because we are bettering ourselves for the future.”
Robert said he did struggle with time issues sometimes, but CSU’s flexible and self-paced class structure helped him. However, he added, “I never used an extension to complete my education, but traveling 125 days a year and opening new doors for CSU was very challenging but very rewarding.”
For Mary, taking online courses led to a revelation. “I have to say the most interesting and shocking was how much more dedicated I was to my studies,” she commented.
“I do not know if it was the fact that it is self-paced that keeps your mind focused more on what you are doing or if it is that I am older now and know how to prioritize my time better.”
Mary said she also learned something else from the CSU experience: “That no matter how long it has been since you have been in school it is never too late to go back. I feel this was the perfect environment for me to achieve my goals.”
Justin appreciated the online experience because “I could spread my classwork out during the week.”
And Mary, who admitted struggling with writing at times, appreciated something else: “The best part was beating Robert in grades. I know this was frustrating for him not because he is competitive that way, but due to me stressing so much about maintaining a 4.0 GPA,” she said.
“I felt very proud of the opportunity. We all were at different places in our pursuit of this goal but it made for good conversation and competition to get it done to graduate together,” added Robert.
And graduate they did—walking across the stage one after the other, with a small break between the bachelor grads and associate grads. It was a moment Justin treasures.
“It was a lot of fun. My dad didn’t get to attend his high school graduation because he went right into the Marine Corps. So it was great to see him walk and I know he found it exciting,” Just said proudly.
“Education is as important as family and can be shared by the experiences we had here at CSU,” Robert said. “Getting my degree was something I always wanted to do and it felt good to finish it.”
Congrats to the Wade family on their great achievement. I retired from the Corps after 30 years and currently six classes from completing my Master of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership with CSU and reside in Pensacola, Florida.
Semper Fi and all the best