September 29, 2023
Empower U Graphic

What is your CSU story?

Hello, my name is Chantell Cooley and I am the vice president of Columbia Southern University Education Group and the vice president of Training and Development at CSU.

I will be writing and posting here weekly to share my thoughts and stories to encourage and motivate you. I will write about topics such as leadership, managing, and self-empowerment.

But first, I want to get to know you. Our students and alumni have helped to make CSU what it is today. I feel honored and privileged to change lives through education. Below is my first blog post and question: What is your CSU story?

“I have one life and one chance to make it count for something…”
— Jimmy Carter

This quote burns in me.

We have one life and one chance to make it count for something. I have found that finding something to latch onto that will inspire you to give back really brings life to you.

Being in education does just that for me. I grew up in a family that wanted to give back to others. My late father Robert Mayes Sr. was huge in encouraging and pushing you to go after your dreams in life. Our family always felt that by helping others obtain an education, we can help people gain confidence in their knowledge and abilities to climb the ladder of success.

Many students tell me they were not that great academically in high school, or even in college, but now they are on top of their game with CSU. As they complete each course, they feel a sense of accomplishment. They know where they are going and CSU is the answer to help them get to where they need to be.

I also get to see and hear stories about how our students come alive. For many, it is the first time they feel like they are back on track with their life. For others, education has been put on hold due to finances, family, etc. For those students who serve in the military and are stationed in the Middle East, Europe or other parts of the world, we provide a support network that is praised often.

Here is a special story that I heard recently:

Jason Basaldua is a Texas firefighter who just earned his master’s degree with CSU. He also served in the military which has helped him get his degree. He will be the first to have graduated with a degree in his family. To him, getting his degree has been a dream come true. He told me how CSU planted a seed in his family. His daughter is a sophomore in college now and is going into the medical field. He has a 9-year-old daughter wants to be a nurse like her mother. He told me he is planning to attend the graduation ceremony in Orange Beach, Ala., in October. Jason said his dad passed away before he could see him cross the stage, so he will carry a high school picture of his father graduating with him to honor his dad.

What an incredible story of how CSU changed a life and planted a seed of education into a wonderful family!

We are so proud of all our students and alumni. You are setting an example for your family and friends!
I would like to hear from you and learn how education has made a difference in your life.

Please respond with a comment below and share your story. Your story could inspire others and remind all students that you are not alone with CSU.



  1. Rafael V. Acosta

    Hello fellow CSU students! My name is Rafael. I am a retired Air Force Master Sergeant of almost 24 years of service in the Health Services Management career field. I currently work for the Department of the Air Force as a Federal Medical Civilian…still serving!

    I placed my education on hold many years ago and regret it! However, during the last year I have taken enough courses to receive my Associate in Applied Science in Business degree! In fact, I’m proud to report that I submitted my petition to graduate and have registered for the commencement ceremony scheduled for October 25th 2013! The last time I wore a cap and gown was in Jun 1984…wow, has it been that long? I absolutely can’t wait to celebrate this momentous occasion with my immediate and Columbia Southern University (CSU) family!

    I want to let everyone know that it is never too late to go back to school. You just need to make that first leap and CSU can get you started. The CSU faculty and staff are here to help you and answer your questions. If you are a veteran or military member, you can also contact the CSU Student Veterans Association (CSUSVA) for assistance.

    Best of luck to all of you and hope you consider making CSU your college of choice! Remember, it is never too late to go back to school…I did!

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      Thank you for your encouraging story. We are here for you and students like you as well who had to put their education on hold. Our faculty and staff are so excited to help adult learners like you succeed in education. Like you mentioned, it is never too late to get your education! I cannot wait to see you walk across that stage at graduation! That will be a glorious day for you! I hope you keep blogging with me. You sure can inspire others to continue on with their education and that is it never too late to go back. Thank you for choosing CSU to help you with your success story!

      Your CSU Family,


  2. Rafael V. Acosta

    Hello fellow CSU students! My name is Rafael. I am a retired Air Force Master Sergeant of almost 24 years of service in the Health Services Management career field. I currently work for the Department of the Air Force as a Federal Medical Civilian…still serving!

    I placed my education on hold many years ago and regret it! However, during the last year I have taken enough courses to receive my Associate in Applied Science in Business degree! In fact, I’m proud to report that I submitted my petition to graduate and have registered for the commencement ceremony scheduled for October 25th 2013! The last time I wore a cap and gown was in Jun 1984…wow, has it been that long? I absolutely can’t wait to celebrate this momentous occasion with my immediate and Columbia Southern University (CSU) family!

    I want to let everyone know that it is never too late to go back to school. You just need to make that first leap and CSU can get you started. The CSU faculty and staff are here to help you and answer your questions. If you are a veteran or military member, you can also contact the CSU Student Veterans Association (CSUSVA) for assistance.

    est of luck to all of you and hope you consider making CSU your college of choice! Remember this; it is never too late to go back to school…I did!

  3. Rakia

    I have been a student at CSU since April 2010. Also, I wasn’t that good in high school. I used to think that school was just not for me. I started to suffer from anxiety and depression. I had withdraw from my local high school and try out a homeschool program before it became too expensive. Later, I enrolled into an adult education program. Following up with that, I earned my high school equivalency diploma. I have been doing well in the majority of my classes at CSU and is halfway finished with my degree. I used to think that I would not have many options to choose from since I knew that I could not succeed in a traditional school environment. Now, many of my classmates are not even in school. I am glad that everything happened to me because it has led me to where I am today. I thank CSU for giving me this opportunity to succeed.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      We are so proud of you! I am now giving you a standing ovation! You are definitely on the right track. Your story is so inspiring to me and I know many others. You could have thrown in the towel and never received your high school diploma but you didn’t! And now you are in our degree program moving yourself forward. I am sure before long you will have your education. You are creating a legacy that will go on forever. Please let us help you along the way. Our Success Center is so ready to work with you and encourage you. Thank you for sharing your story with me. I hope to see you on the blog in the future!

      Your CSU Family,


      1. Rakia

        Thank You Ms. Cooley! I find it very exciting that you and your brother Robert Jr. have taken over your father’s business. Will you and Dr. Robert persue regional accreditation for CSU?

  4. Gaylynn Watts-210058

    Hello Ms. Cooley;
    My long term goal is a Bachelor’s of Psychology degree, I am a second-year student at
    CSU. I am a working 58 yr old grandmom of 10 lovely grandchildren and I never imagined that this would be as difficult as it has been. The work isn’t hard, it’s just trying to manage both school and work has been a little daunting, and truth be known, several times I’ve thought of quitting, but something keeps me coming back to it. My grandchildren are my motivation at this point, and I will continue; CSU has been ever helpful with any issue I’ve ever consulted them about, that makes it so much easier.
    Thanks CSU!

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author

      Gaylynn Watts,

      I am so glad you are moving forward! You are such an inspiration to others by going back to school! Even though you are fitting education into an already full life, that dream of being educated stays alive. Keep at it, you are a beautiful example to your grandchildren and to many others that you may not even know of. You will be so proud of yourself when you complete your program. Please let us know if we can ever help you and encourage you that you are making a difference. Thank you for the kind comments as well. We would love to see you walk across the stage at graduation in the future!! CSU staff and faculty will continue to be your cheerleaders on the sidelines cheering you on!

      Your CSU Family,


    2. Rakia

      I am also in the Psychology degree program. I have thought about quitting several times as well. There is something that just keeps me coming back to it though. It is great that a woman that is your age is finishing up her degree. Good Job!

  5. Chad Carey

    Hello everyone, I am proud to have achieved my Bachelor’s in Fire Science and Associates in Occupational Safety and Health, for both degrees have provided a path for me to grow within the fire service and achieve the position of Fire Chief. After many years in the fire service, I felt it was necessary for a formal, higher level of education in order to grow and prosper within my profession. After finishing my first two degrees with CSU and experience the impact within my profession from such, I could not resist further growth so I enrolled back into CSU where I am now half way through my MBA/PA program. CSU has even paved the path for me to be accepted into the Executive Fire Officer Program where I can further pursue my passion of increasing safety and efficiency within the fire service.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      We are so excited to see you achieve your educational goals. The best part is that we were a part of your achievement. I am personally excited that you can now be accepted into the EFO Program. Please keep me posted on how you are doing with this program and all your success!

      Your CSU Family,


      1. Chad Carey

        Chantell Cooley,

        On November 22nd, I finished my first session within the Executive Fire Officer Program, now I begin my first research project. There is no doubt that CSU provided me with the knowledge and experience needed to face the challenges of this program.

        Thank you,

        Chad Carey

  6. Tc

    CSU made my dreams come true. While serving in the Army, I earned two degrees from CSU. I never thought I could be a High School Teacher, Baseball Coach and now an Athletic Director. Because of CSU I am all three today. Thanks

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      WOW! We are so proud of you! While serving in the Army, you were able to earn your two degrees. CSU is so excited we could assist you in this personal goal while you were serving our country. To make your dreams of being a coach come true makes me so proud. You are the reason why CSU truly cares and wants to help you become the best by obtaining your education. Thank you for sharing your story. I love it!

      Your CSU Family,


      1. Courtney Blake

        This blog is the place to visit when a word of encouragement is needed. While I am not a student, but an instructor at the university, I find the stories of our students to be so inspiring! Thanks for hosting an outlet for our students to share their trials and successes. Our students are extraordinary!

        1. Chantell Cooley Post author


          Thank you for your comment. I am also so inspired by these incredible stories. I am so glad we were able as a CSU Team to help our students become successful! Also, thank you for being an incredible faculty member that takes time to help our students become successful in their courses.


  7. Gentry

    CSU Family,

    I’m currently active duty army. I have three years time in service, so in other words I’m still fairly young. My first duty station led me to Seoul, Korea in which I met Sr NCOS & Officers. The night life of Korea was amazing but as a 20 year ole young soldier my leaders pushed school down my neck constantly that I eventually gave in. SSG Todd hey little bro Columbia Southern University is the way to go CW3 Smith T Columbia Southern University would be a great fit for you.Fast forward the year is 2013. I have 87 hours of completion in my criminal justice administration program.I plan to have my bachelor’s by August 2014. I completed my associate degree in 2012 while down range thanks to the flexibility of CSU family. See you at graduation!

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      We are so glad your officers pushed you to attend our school. I hear perseverance in your voice as you just buckled down and made it happen. I love hearing stories like yours. I am so honored that we can help you as a CSU family to meet your goals of education while you are serving our country. We are so proud of you obtaining your AA degree in 2012 and now almost finished wither your bachelor’s degree. We look forward to seeing you in 2014 and I hope to have you come blog with me more often. You sure can inspire others to get your degree and to make a difference!

      Your CSU Family,


  8. Patricia Magee

    When I was about 6 years old l would sit at the kitchen table after dinner with my Dad while he worked on his MBA. He would read to me things from his textbooks & I would hear about P.I.E & other business jargon. That day I said that when I grew up I was going to get an MBA just like Dad. Junior High School & High School introduced me to a variety of Art Classes which also became a big love for me & I also wanted to become an artisit I did work in the Art field for 10 years & pursued a Fine Arts degree at a local University but never finished. I returned to work & switched to sales due to being bored w/salary monotany. I also eventually returned to school & obtained a Bachelor of Science degree. In 2003 I subscribed to ebay & began to buy wholesale lots where I would keep some items for myself, use some as gifts & sell the rest as a hobby. I also had a work at home job where I sold to libraries for a small publishing company. In 2004 I opened an ebay store. In 2004 I was also diagnosed w/a brain tumor in my speech area & lost my ability to talk. I went through brain surgery but was not able to return to work for 9 months due to my head hurting if I tried to talk for more than 5 minutes at a time so I continued to work on my ebay store. My surgeon also told me that I should seek some type of mental exercises such as crossword puzzles, etc. because during brain surgery the neurons in the area of a tumor get severed. They will not grow back unless a person undergoes new learning experiences & grows new neurons. In 2006 I applied to a local school that was literally a mile down the street. I was not sure if I would yet be comfortable in a classroom & getting called on to answer questions by the teacher due to still oftentimes being “at a loss for words” due to surgery..My advisor suggested I consider online classes & also reminded me that I had 3 undergraduate classes I would need to take before I could start the actual graduate classes which cost about $1600 per class. I wondered if I would be able to finish even the 3 undergraduate classes at that cost since it was really out of my budget. I decided to go look online for other schools & I found CSU in the search. My jaw dropped when I saw that graduate classes were only $780 each! Plus I didn’t have to take the 3 undergraduate classes since CSU’ accepts degrees in their entirety! I started classes in 9/2007. For $780 a class (& with split payments) I could afford to get an MBA! Plus I became a Learning Partner w/CSU (Art as a Way of Life) & my classes were now just $700 each! I finished classes in 11/2009 & graduated in 12/2009. I’m so glad I found CSU & was able to get my MBA! And I grew enough new neurons that no one would ever guess that I went through brain surgery almost 9 years ago!. When I get that yearning to return to school again it will be for a DBA & it will be at CSU since CSU makes a quality education affordable!

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author

      Dear Patricia,

      Wow! I am speechless. I loved your story. You faced all odds and you came out on top. I am so proud that you chose CSU to further your education. As I read your story, I began to wonder if attending CSU and getting into the each course to study would help your brain neurons re-route if that makes sense? And after further reading your story, that is exactly what happened. You are a living miracle and I love your perseverance to push on through and you did and you got your MBA just like your dad! I know our faculty and staff would also be so proud of you.

      I am a daddy’s girl so I understand how you must feel. You wanted to get your MBA like your dad did. You are an inspiration to so many students who might be in the middle of their degree plan and wonder if they can make it. Your story should cause them to just go for it. Thank you again for blogging with me. I hope to have you blog weekly or as often as you can to help me inspire others to move forward in life in their education and become who they are called to be!

      Your CSU family,


  9. Manny F

    I am currently a federal employee and a member of the Marine Corps Reserve for going on 13 years now. CSU has allowed me to juggle two jobs, a wife, and 2 very young children. While I was an active duty Marine, I took full advantage of the flexibility that CSU gave me and now I am five classes away from completing my Masters in Criminal Justice Administration. I have spent a large amount of time on deployment and away from my home, and through it all I learned that there really isn’t much excuse for me not to obtain a degree. I completed about 80% of my Bachelor’s while I was deployed on board ship. I was extremely fortunate to come up in the Marine Corps with leadership that gave me the opportunity to better myself and NEVER accepted anything from me that was below what I was capable of. Thanks to CSU and the Marine Corps for giving me the tools for success.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      Thank you for your encouraging email. I am excited that we were able to help you fulfill your dream of obtaining your Bachelor’s Degree and now your Masters in Criminal Justice. We understand you have a life and to fit education in it, we must help you do this. Our faculty and staff commend you on such an incredible job. Thank you again for motivating other students to move forward and get their degree. The time is now!

      Your CSU Family,


  10. Blaine Pitre

    My name is Blaine and I will share my CSU story. I started with an Associate Degree in Emergency Medical Health Science (Paramedic Medicine) from a traditional brick and mortar university, after more than 5 years of working on an ambulance I had the opportunity to make a change in career and took a position in Industrial Health and Safety. After working in Industrial Health and Safety for almost 10 years and obtaining many certifications in the field I set my sights on the CSP, or Certified Safety Professional, certification; however, there was one problem. My associate degree did not meet the education requirements for the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) to sit for the CSP and being recently married with a 1 y/o son, attending a traditional class-room university was not an option.

    Then, while researching approved university programs on the BCSP website I discovered CSU. I contacted BCSP to confirm that the B.S. degree program in Occupational Health and Safety would meet the qualifications allowing me to apply to sit for the ASP/CSP exams, which they did confirm. Fast forward 3 years, I completed my B.S. in 2010, passed the ASP and CSP exams in 2011 and I’m now currently pursuing a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Occupational Health and Safety Management from Tulane University’s Center for Applied Environmental Public Health distance education program.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      It is great to hear from you today. I am so glad that we were able to help you move into a new field by getting your degree in Occupational Safety and Health. We thank you for your support now as a CSU Alumni and wish you the best of luck in getting your Master degree from Tulane University. You have a great story of making it happen! I hope you continue to blog with me as you can. I know your input and story will encourage so many students to continue on in there goal of completing their education.

      Your CSU Family,


  11. Michael Manint

    Nine years ago, I was thinking how I could become an even more active citizen in my community. So I joined the local fire department. Little did I know how challenging and rewarding being a fire fighter could be. I quickly realized that I was about to embark on a career change after spending many years behind a desk. I decided that I also wanted to pursue any educational opportunities regarding the fire service field. Knowledge is power! So started to look at many different community colleges and universities and took into consideration tuition, books, degree programs and even location. Columbia Southern University kept coming back as the only logical solution. So I made the leap and enrolled, and a few years later graduated with honors and received my bachelors degree in Fire Science. I am now only a few classes shy of receive my Masters Degree in Emergency Services Management! WIthin the last several years on the fire department, I was promoted to Captain and Training Officer, and just 3 months ago, I was promoted to the rank of Fire Chief! I think that the most important lesson, is that I have set a pretty good example for my children by stressing the importance of a good, quality education and that with a little hard work, you can achieve anything that you set your mind to. Thank you CSU!

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author

      I am so proud of you and how you are the example to your children. I hear this from many students. I am excited to see you further your education into your Masters Degree Program in Emergency Services Management. How you have climbed to upper level positions in your department and now “Fire Chief” is incredible! Please let me know how the Masters Degree in Emergency Services Management as helped you so far in the Fire Industry.

      Your CSU Family,


  12. John Simba

    My name is John Simba Iam from Tanzania .This is my first on line study . Current Iam working as safety coordinator at Bulyhulu mine . Through CSU I hope will achieve my dream of becoming a holder of BOS in occupational Health and Safety. This week I will be completing the first course toward my five years degree. I feel that was let to start studying at CSU but still I have time.I hope staffs of CSU will help me to achieve my dream.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      We are very excited about you choosing CSU to help you fulfill your dream of education. Our faculty and staff will be right with you along the way. Please let us know how you are doing and reach out to us by email or phone. I know with CSU, You Can and You Will!

      Your CSU Family,


  13. Darnell Davis

    My name is Darnell Davis. I am married (10 years) and have two children (a five year old son and a two year old daughter. I started attending CSU in April 2012 and graduated with my AAS Occupational Safety and Health in April 2013. I started on my BS Occupational Safety and Health/Fire Science Concentration in June 2013. If all goes well, I will graduate next year.
    My wife is also a full time student working on her Associate Degree in Criminal Justice at the community college here and plans to transfer to Eastern Kentucky University and get her Bachelor’s Degree in Homeland Security.
    We had both talked about going back to school for several years. Of course we had every excuse not to such as time and money. Then the kids came into the picture and it seemed like a distant dream that would never come true for either one of us. Two years ago we took a family trip to Colorado to visit my brother and his family. Something from this trip “lit a fire” under both of us. This trip was during the first two weeks of July and by August she had started school. I took a little more time because I couldn’t do the “classroom thing” because I also work full time. I also wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I happened to see an advertisement for CSU and decided to check it out. About an hour later, I had already filled out my application.
    CSU is the perfect fit for me. I work nights. I stay up with the kids during the day and work on my class assignments while she is in school. I do homework on my lunch break almost every night. We both work on homework on the weekends. Sometimes it gets really hectic trying to find the balance between family, school, and work. But, we manage to make it work. We both knew from the start that it wasn’t going to be an easy road to travel. We support each other in every possible way that we can to make it easier. We both know that it will pay off in the long run. We also know we are setting a good example for our kids too.
    I stated before that CSU is the perfect fit for me. The flexibility of the online courses is wonderful. The tuition is very affordable. Probably the best thing is that I can “go to class” in my pajamas when I get home from work in the mornings or at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning and nobody cares. I have had some great professors and have always had great help from my academic advisers and anyone else I have talked to or dealt with. Not to mention, CSU had exactly the program I had been looking for. Thanks to everyone at CSU.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      Thank you for your encouraging post. It is great to hear about you and your wife pushing right along in pursuit of your educational dream. Yes, it will be well worth it when you are finished. CSU is for the adult learner that can not attend a traditional setting due to work and family. It seems like you guys have a good schedule and are really making this work for you. Please know we are here to encourage you along the way and help you when you need that extra support.

      We would love to see you walk across the stage this October. Let me know if you will be coming.

      Your CSU Family,


      1. Darnell Davis

        Here it is a year and a half later. I am still a CSU student. I am working towards my MS Occupational Safety and Health/Environmental Management. I graduated in November of last year with my BS Occupational Safety and Health/Fire Science with a 3.89 GPA.
        My wife graduated (with honors) in December of last year with her AAS Criminal Justice from Elizabethtown Technical and Community College here in Kentucky. She decided to take a few months off and is now in the process of enrolling at CSU in the BS Homeland Security program. She is intending on getting her Master’s degree at CSU as well.
        We have supported each other for the last few years while in school. Trying to balance home, family, school, and everything else is by no means an easy task. She made the decision that CSU is a better fit for her than anywhere else. Needless to say, I am thrilled!
        Although it may be a few years down the road, we want to walk across the stage together. Going back to school has been a journey we decided to take together, and once both of us have fulfilled our goals, we want to don our caps and gowns and walk together. Of course, it also is nice given the fact that our anniversary is in September and we can plan our trip as a present to each other.

        1. Bill Vela

          Hi Darnell, I am contemplating becoming a CSU student in the MS Occupational Safety and Health/Environmental Management program but have reservations. Currently I hold a CHST and monitor the HS&E program for Two Aluminum refinery’s here in OHIO. The company is willing to pay for the education but at 59 years old I may be getting to old to be of any value. I do want the graduate degree but more to say I did it. I am use to on-line training and received a BS in Marketing from the University of Phoenix back in 2007. Do you feel the online program is supportive? Is the staff supportive of all the challenges you are facing as an adult learner? I noticed two Safety programs offered. Why did you choose this one over the other? Sorry about all the questions and hope you will be able to answer these questions for me.

          1. Darnell Davis


            Sorry it has taken so long to reply.

            I chose the MS Occupational Safety and Health with the Environmental program to give myself a more rounded educational background.
            The staff at CSU is phenomenal. I have been a student at CSU since 2012 and I have never had any negative issues. I have never had any bad experiences with my professors. I have to say it has been a wonderful experience so far.
            As far as being 59, age is nothing more than a number. I say get enrolled and get your Master’s. And….you are NEVER too old be be of value. It sounds as if you have a lot of experience in your background, which is fantastic. Again, I say become a student again. I felt as if I was too old to become a student again at 43…I was wrong! You are never too old to learn. If nothing else, do it for you! Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck!

  14. Ryan N. Fenley, MBA, MHM

    Its a funny story how CSU came into my life! In 2009, After being in the Hospitality Industry for 18 years, while teaching at the college level, and holding an Executive Master’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the (Conrad N. Hilton College) at the University of Houston. I found CSU by luck!

    I was talking to a gentleman named, Shumon Johnson, who was head of the Hospitality Programat CSU at that time. We were talking about an adjunct instructor position at CSU. he told me how much that wanted to exapnd the undergraduate and graduate program at that time.

    He had just hired someone right before I talked to. He still told me that he wanted to utilize me in the future. So as I was looking at the CSU website, I noticed the university offered an MBA Program in Hospitality and Tourism (this wouold be a second masters in my field). So after talking to Admissions, I decided to enroll. One year later (in 2010). I finished my second master’s from CSU. A year later, my bosses at the college and university tried to convince me to get my Ph.D ot doctorasl degree. Come to find out, I would not be able to drop everything to attend a traditional Ph.D program so, they asked me to attend a DBA program instead. So CSU comes into my life again! Since 2011, around my work schedule and college teaching loads, I have been taking one class at time on my DBA. As it stands today, I have 2 classes left–than I start my Doctoral Comprehensive Examination and than my Dissertation.

    There is no doubt in my mind that God has placed CSU in my life for a few reasons and these doors have “literally come off the hinges” for me. From the time CSU came into my life in 2009, I had no idea that I would be completing another Masters and my DBA. I feel this has been an inspirational piece and a story to share for others to hear. This was all based upon a job search originally! Thank you CSU for giving me the opportunity to attend graduate school for the second and third time. I hope to see where all this will go afterwards!!


    Ryan N. Fenley, MBA, MHM

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      You are amazing! I am glad we were there to help you move yourself forward in your field. Shumon is a great person and that is exciting that he was an inspiration for you to come to CSU. As an owner of CSU, this makes me so proud. Our vision to is change and improve lives one student at a time. Thank you for choosing CSU and allowing us to be a part of your dream. We hope to see you walk across the stage next year. Keep in touch and let me know how you are doing.

      Your CSU Family,


  15. Darcy Hendrickson

    Three years ago I was presented with the opportunity from my employer to go to schoool to get a degree in Occupational Safety and Health to help me be able move up in my department. I already had a Bachelors in Science from Portland State University, but there was not a brick and mortar school close enough for me to attend that offered the OSH degree. After much research, I decided to attend Columbia Southern University, partly because another co-worker was attending the same school. After my first two classes I was so grateful that I had decided to attend an online school! I am able to flex my class schedule to work with family activities and work, with little trouble. I love the online way of taking classes! Tomorrow I start my second to last class, and intend to have my last two classes completed in this calendar year and have already petitioned for graduation. Thank you CSU!

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      We are so excited that you might be coming to graduation! I am so proud of your accomplishment and hope that this educational goal of obtaining your degree will help you move up in your department. Please keep me posted on the outcome! What a great testimony!

      See you at graduation!


  16. Michael Davidson

    I have a vast and interesting career background. Right out of high school I worked as a correctional officer in Louisiana. It was excited for a young man right out of high school but I knew that it was not the career I wanted. I left there to work as a professional firefighter/EMT for a number of years and worked in EMS on the side. Then a friend introduced me to the offshore oil and gas industry. I have had some experiences to do some amazing things! But I know I would not be where I was if not for CSU and I will tell you why. I currently work for Shell Oil and I have tried for years to get a job with this company. I started with CSU back in 2009 at the bottom. I obtained my AAS in Occupational Safety and Health, BOS in OSH, and I have ONE MORE CLASS and I will have my MOS in OSH. I am very excited! But, back to Shell, I applied numerous times and the instant that I change by education to Bachelors, I got a call the next day. If not for CSU, I would not have reached my career goal. I even was accepted into Delta Epsilon Tau and volunteered as a CSU Ambassador. My career continues to soar and I’m even being considered for international assignments. Thank you Columbia Southern University!

    Michael Davidson, ASP, CSMP

    1. Michael Davidson

      I do however, wish that CSU would launch a PhD program in Occupational Safety and Health. I would be “all over that”.

  17. Chantell Cooley Post author


    Your story is so inspiring! Look what you have done! Just incredible! For those of us that completed our degrees in our adult years, this accomplishment is even more real. Thank you for being a CSU Ambassador. You will be able to truly encourage and change lives by your story.

    Will you be coming to graduation this year?


  18. Elbert L Brown

    Chantell Cooley,

    Hello Chantell Cooley and Staff.

    My name is Elbert. I work for the US Army with a tenure of 16 years in the Human Resource Career Field. I’m a currently MBA Student here at CSU, it has been a pleasure of knowing some great individual’s in the CSU Staff.

    Glad to have a chance to post on your website to introduce myself.
    Service Member.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author

      Hello Elbert,

      It is so great to have you blog with me. I appreciate your service in the Army. Thank you for believing in CSU. I hope to have you blog with me in the future.

      Thank you


  19. Robert Sapp

    I heard about CSU at a Hazardous Material Conference I attended in Alaska in September 2012. In June of 2012 I had completed my BA in Environmental Studies at Ashford University and was not really interested in obtaining a master’s degree, but after talking to a representative from CSU at the conference, I was interested. I had decided I was not waiting as long between my BA and my master’s as I did between my associate and my BA. It was 24 years between earning my associate degree in Nuclear Technology at Chattanooga State and starting my BA at Ashford.
    In those 24 years, I started a career at a nuclear plant, handling their radioactive waste and mixed waste as well as eventually handling the hazardous waste. My wife and I raised 2 kids and now have 9 grandchildren, and I am now the Subject Matter Expert for hazardous and mixed waste for 7 nuclear plants. Who knows where my career will go with the completion of my master’s, today I have enrolled in my 4th class of 13 for my master’s in occupational safety and health with a concentration in environmental management and I continue to daily use what I have learned at all the schools I have attended.
    I don’t know where my career will go, but I know I would not have made it this far without a quality education. I also know helping my wife raise 2 children, playing with my grandchildren as often as I can, and being very active in my church (I am also a licensed and ordained evangelist) I could not afford the time to go to a building for an education. So online was my only option. In a career spanning 27 years, I have been awarded many certifications as well as my degrees and I have provern to myself: You are never to old or busy to go to school.
    I look forward to two years from now when I can hang my master’s degree next to my BA and associate as well as my other certifications, and my family’s pictures. And perhaps I can instill in my grandchildren the love to learn and my willingness to work hard to achieve my goals.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      Your background is amazing! I am so glad we are a part of your educational experience. You are just becoming more and more valuable to your company. We are so excited that you are well on your way to getting your Masters degree. Also, I think it is a great thing that you are active in your church. Please keep me posted on how you are doing. I hope you keep blogging with me and sharing your experiences. 🙂

      Your CSU Family,


      1. Robert

        My Masters degree arrived by mail on Monday, August 17 which was also the day that I went to my dad’s funeral. It was a bittersweet moment. My dad knew I was in college again but by the time I completed my studies in June the Alzheimer’s had full control. But for a man that only went to the 6th grade I know he was proud of all his children, and he always joked with me that I would never get out of school. He never got to see this one but I know he would have celebrated with me if he could have.

  20. Robert Robinson

    Hello, everyine, my name is Robert Robinson, and I have been a CSU student since 2010. I am in the last stretch of obating my BSBA in Business Administrtaion/Sports Management with only having two electives to complete to get my degree conferred. This did not seem possible a little while ago. In Fe. 2012, I suffered a stroke, that left me with short-term memory loss and swelling in the brain. Due to my unforeseen high blood pressure, (one of the causes of the stroke) it affected my kidneys as well, whihc I was hospitalized for all. To make a long story short, I did not let my health stop me from achieving my goal and getting my degree. I wanted to let my three children and wife, knwo that through any adversity that you will face, that you become stronger and mentally prepared to tackle anything. Now, I am not saying go out and have a stroke like I did, just perservere through the tough times and you can achieve anything, with the help of family and friends. Sadly, I will leave CSU after this year, too pursue my Master’s in Sports Management. But I will not ever forget the great classmates and professor’s that helped me along the way.

  21. Chantell Cooley Post author


    What an incredible story! I am so glad you pulled through it and seem to be doing good now. I love your attitude and I am so glad you kept yourself moving forward in your degree. We will miss you as you move on but I want to thank you for letting us be a part of changing your life through education. Please stay involved in the activities for our alumni. Your story is inspiring and I know will help many others.


  22. Pam

    I am 52 and graduated from a small college with an associate degree in 1981. I was always able to find work without a full degree so I didn’t give it much thought. Then I got hired by that same college I had graduated from back in ’81. A bachelors degree was required in the job description but they hired me anyway. It was the right time to start working towards that degree. I could have attended classes for free at this college, which has since become a full four-year college, but I didn’t want to go to school with 18 -22 year olds, especially since part of my duties are coaching tennis. I just didn’t want to end up on a group project with one of my tennis players – can you say awkward! So I checked around for on-line colleges.
    I was thrilled to find CSU and their great tuition rate that also included books. And then when I found the per course offering it was perfect. I still play competitive tennis and didn’t want to lock myself into a class on a night when I played in a league.
    I started at CSU in Nov of 2008. All of my credits transferred from my Associate degree. I had 60 credits to complete, so 20 classes. I am on class number 19. I was really hoping to finish in time for this year’s graduation, but with coaching it just didn’t work. I will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Sport Management Concentrate in 2015. Thank you CSU!

  23. Chantell Cooley Post author


    Thank you for sharing your CSU story. You are so close to finishing this chapter of your life. I am so excited for you. Thank you for believing in CSU to help you along this educational journey. Your story will help many others who are going back to school to complete their education. Please keep me posted on how you are doing and we sure hope to see you next year at graduation.


  24. Mary Jo Padgett

    Hello to All of the CSU family. I am 53 years old and the mother of five grown children , grandmother to thirteen and great grandma to one. I had never finished high school but worked very hard and in every job that I had I always winded up making my way into management. In 1998 I finally went and got my GED and scored so high they gave me a regular High School diploma. With that in hand I decided that the only thing left was to go to college to get the degree that everyone now wanted in order for me to advance further than a store manager. I started at a regular college, but then my youngest son who was only eight at the time, went into kidney failure. Between hospital stays and treatments I winded up dropping out of college as I did not have time to make classes and do the school work. In 2010, my sister, who was already a student at CSU told me about the on line classes and talked me into going back to finish my degree. I transferred in the 24 credits form the Junior College and in March 2012 finished my Associate degree in Business and then continued on for my Bachelors degree in Business Admin/ Humane Resource Management. At this point I wanted to show my kids that it did not matter how old you were, you can still go and get your education. On October 25, 2013 I will have gotten my degree and while my children will not be able to attend they will be able to watch it through the live feed link that CSU has provided. My grandson, who is 8, will be there with me to watch me walk across the stage. I want to show them all that they too can do this and I want them to see how rewarding it is. The staff and faculty at CSU have been wonderful and inspiring. There were plenty of times when I was ready to give up , but then my teachers would give me feedback and encouragement and that would make me square my shoulders and say , I can do this. I am humble to say that they have inspired me so much that I will be graduating with a 4.0. Thank all of you for all the great times and for all the encouragement. In November I will start my Masters and I am looking forward to the journey.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author

      Mary Jo,

      I love your story! I am so glad to have seen you walk the stage. I know having your grandson with you was very special. I am also glad your children were able to see you on live stream. I shared your comment with our faculty and it has touched their hearts to know they helped move you forward. We applaud you for going on to get your Masters!

      You can do it! See you again when you finish!


  25. Ken Kerr


    First, I have to tell you how excited I am to walk across that stage in a few hours when I earn my BS degree in Occupational Safety and Health. It was both an honor and a pleasure for my wife and I to meet you at the reception last evening. Reading the many testimonies in this blog on this day in Orange Beach makes me even more proud to become a CSU Graduate.

    As a former Paramedic with Oil and Gas Experience, I began a new career in Occupational Safety and Health off the coast of Angola, Africa. I chose CSU because it was recommended by graduates and convenient for long international assignments. The days at work were long and tiring but every evening I lay in my bunk reading my assignments. I was excited about the useful information that I could share each day as I made my rounds, observing work and coaching others in safety. I had a three strike rule everyone laughed about. Each night, the third time the CSU text book hit me on my nose I would have to close it and go to sleep. Somehow, it worked. My crew members were really supportive of my efforts, and would cheer me on when I took tests and turned in assignments. Not surprisingly, the valuable safety and health information helped me help others. Our team led that workforce to become the safest most efficient operation in the area. We defended that title three years in a row. I maintained honors throughout my studies, earned my Associates degree and quickly advanced in the organization. I am currently part of a wonderful safety and health team in Oil and Gas Exploration here in the United States. My CSU Story continues as I pursue my Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership.

    My mother’s desire for her son to have a college education was my inspiration. She died before she could see me graduate, but she will be watching over me and in my thoughts as I walk the stage this afternoon. You would like her, she admired and inspired educators. She taught me that each of us pass through life “like a ripple in a pond… you just never know how many lives you touch.” To conclude, I want to offer a big “thank you” to the entire CSU team that made my journey possible. The CSU family is indeed changing lives.

    Time to get dressed and make my mother proud.

    Congratulations to the Class of 2013!

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      It was an honor watching you cross the stage! We are so inspired by your story and thank you for believing in CSU and our vision. Thank you for now changing lives and passing your experience on to your staff. Your story will change so many lives!



  26. Michael Phillips

    Mrs. Chantell Cooley,

    My wife Gloria Phillips and I traveled from San Diego, California to celebrate the completion of my MBA degree, and to pay a visit to the Columbia Southern University Orange Beach, Alabama campus. Mrs. Cooley, what my wife Gloria and I witnessed in Orange Beach, Alabama was first class hospitality from the moment we arrived at our hotel. Our visit to CSU’s main campus for the open house and the campus tour, as well as the 2013 graduation reception, exceeded our expectations.

    The 2013 graduation ceremony was awesome and well planned, but what really speaks volumes about our entire visit was meeting with you and our discussion about your Father’s dream and your family’s drive and determination even during times of adversity, all in the effort to bring Columbia Southern University to the world of education. After my wife and I spoke with you and your lovely daughter for several minutes, we could feel the genuine love and care the Columbia Southern University family offers to each and everyone associated with your great organization. I’m pleased with my decision to become a part of Columbia Southern University alumni.

    Michael Phillips

  27. Chantell Cooley Post author


    I want to thank you for speaking with me at graduation. I was so encouraged by your passion for education. We are so proud of your achievement in receiving your degree. Thank you for helping us to change more lives!

    TOTN (Take over the Nation)


  28. Lili Miller

    Hello, my name is Lili Miller and I am 53 years old and currently serving in the Army Reserve stationed at Redstone Arsenal, AL. I joined the Air Force at 18 years old in 1978 and served 9 years on active duty. In my first semester at school I realized I was pregnant with my son and thought I would start back after he was born. Unfortunately, I graduated with my Associates Degree when he graduated high school. I really didn’t have anyone to mentor me about returning to school but took classes here and there. After a 23 year break in military service I joined the Army Reserve in 2010. I was a defense contractor but had the opportunity to get a government job as a secretary. I only had 20 more classes for my Bachelor’s Degree and promised myself I would go back and finish my degree. I have 7 more classes left before I graduate with my Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Project Management. I just received a promotion with my government job as a Project Management Specialist. I can’t thank CSU enough for letting me finally reach my goal…it’s been 31 years in the making. Thank you CSU!!!

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      I am so proud of you and your accomplishments. You were determined to make this happen in your life. I am excited that CSU was there with you all the way to encourage you and to remind you of your goals. Wow! 31 years and you did it! Thank you for sharing your story to persevere!


      1. Lili Miller

        Well, I start my LAST two courses tomorrow…thank you CSU for helping me attain my degree which has been a long and winding road sometimes…but it’s almost all behind me…thank you!!

        1. Chantell Cooley Post author


          We are excited for you! Keep pushing forward and know that you are carrying your legacy forward through education! I hope to see you at graduation some day! Thank you for posting with me.


          1. Lili Miller

            Two days away from graduation…cannot wait to see the campus and meet the staff…little did I know that the same week I finished my degree, I would be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I have now finished two courses for my MBA in Project Management and look forward to learning more from CSU…thank you to the staff and everyone who gives us the opportunity to fulfill our dreams of higher education. Thank you so very much!!

  29. Tilesha Troup

    Hello my name is Tilesha Troup and I am a recent graduate of the class of 2013. I recevieved my Bachelors in Criminal Justice Administration. Graduating for me was a dream come true as I had faced many obatacles along the way in obtaining this degree. It warmed my heart to know that so many of my other fellow graduates also faced obstacles such as I did while obtaining their degree. I have already started on the next phase of my educational journey, which will be starting Law School in the Fall of 2014. I plan on taking the LSAC in February and have already began to study for it I have already completed my intereview with Dean of Admissions and went on a tour. I had a great time obtaining my degree from Columbia, the instructors were awesome and some of them also were great motivators for me. I am a firm beleiver that God puts the right people in your life to help you deal with what you are delaing with. I got a sense of fellowship and Godliness from the late Dr. May’s children and from attending Columbia. I am still excited and suprised that this part of my educational journey has finally come to an end. I guess it still hasnt sunk in yet.!

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      Thank you for your story. I loved hearing that you are moving foward on your next chapter of your life. Looks like you will “blow it out of the water” as well!! I firmly believe as you that you were at the right place at the right time. We are proud of you and know that God will guide and direct you!


  30. Clyde Ortego

    Hey Chantell:

    It was great to meet you at the Alumni Social the night before the Graduation last month.

    Iam a 58 year old male who never thought would earn a Bachelors Degree much less an Associates one also.

    I am a Safety/ Environmental Engineer for a barge repair company in Hahnville La.

    I started my long road to my degree back when Hurriacanne Katrinia was bearing down on us and through some unforseen circumstances thought of opting out of the program many a times but stuck with it to the bitter end.

    I will not sugar coat it, there were many times I thought I was going to go crazy with the assingments and papers to write, but with the help and support of my wife it all came true for me.

    I also want to thank CSU for all of their support as well, from the extended leave and time on some of my courses, Iwould not have a Bachelors Degree Today.

    Thanks again

    Clyde Ortego

  31. Chantell Cooley Post author


    It was great to meet your and your family. We are so proud of you and how you kept yourself moving towards your degree. You are an example to others to never give up on your dream. Thank you for blogging with me.

    Keep changing lives!


  32. Clyde Ortego

    Hey Chantell:

    I am sorry to have put you through the family bit (HA-HA).

    I am wondering if we are going to be able to view the pictures that were taken at the graduation?

    Have a great weekend


  33. Chantell Cooley Post author


    You should be getting an email on how you can view your graduation pics.


  34. Clyde Ortego

    I wish everyone at Columbia Southern University a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday.

    Happy Thanksgiving

    Clyde Ortego

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      We hope your Thanksgiving with your family was wonderful as well. Keep moving foward!


  35. Clyde Ortego

    Hey Chantell:

    I want to wish you and all of the staff at CSU a wonderful and Merry Christmas and a very lovely New Year.

    This also goes for all of the graduates of 2013 who follow this Blog.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year:

    Clyde Ortego

  36. Ethan Smith

    I began attending CSU while I was actively serving in the US Air Force. I suffered an injury on the job that restricted my ability to be in my career field. As I realized this, I began taking classes at CSU to prepare me for the civilian sector while awaiting a medical discharge. By demonstrating my ability to complete my B.S. in Occupational Safety and Health and work full time, was attractive to my current employer. I was hired my last week in the AF, as a Environmental, Safety and Health Professional. Eighteen months have passed since that time and I am now about to begin my last semester to fulfill my degree requirements. I have had many struggles while attending school but none that were stronger than me. The flexibility has been crucial to my success. CSU has been a key part to where I am today, as I am succeeding in the civilian sector even with physical limitations.


  37. Clyde Ortego

    Hey Ethan:

    I am also former airforce and in the Environmental Health and Safety Field.

    Hang In there and this field will do you justice, I have been doing this for around ten years and sometimes it gets hard and other times it is very easy.

    Remeber to keep your records up to date and you will be in good shape.

    Have a great Holiday Season

    Clyde Ortego

  38. Chantell Cooley Post author


    Thank you for your continuing to follow my blog. We also want to thank you again for being a CSU Alumni and for your support to CSU. I want to wish you a Merry Christmas as well and the best year for you to come!


  39. Chantell Cooley Post author


    Your story is so inspiring. Our Safety and Health program continues to help so many students make their way into this industry. You are making education work for you as you transitioned into the civilian world. You are an example of perseverance and determination! I am so proud of you and thank you for sharing your story. We hope you can come to graduation in 2014 so that we can meet you.


    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      It is good to hear from you. As for me and my family, we had a great Christmas. It is always great to spend time with family. I look forward to hearing from you as my blogs go out this month. We always love to hear from you!

      Happy New Year!


  40. Gabriel Soto

    Hello Everyone,

    My name is Gabriel Soto and I am currently serving in the United States Army and I have earned my Master in Business Administration with a certification in Human Resources Management (MBA/HRM). I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the personnel and faculty of such a great University. I am 32 years old and 8 years in the Army which I am thinking to pursue in another master’s degree or maybe a certification in Finance. Since I started with Columbia Southern, when I counsel my Soldiers and I encourage people to go to college but I also recommend them to Columbia Southern because it just a great university and the faculty care for their students. Once again thank you and keep all with all of your hard work which I know is not that easy the many people may think.

    ATT: Mr. Gabe

  41. Chantell Cooley Post author


    Thank you for your post. We are so proud of you and your accomplishments. Thank you for serving our country and telling your soldiers about CSU. I am so glad that we were a part of educational experience. Keep posting as you can. Let’s keep changing lives!


  42. Clyde Ortego

    Hey Chantell:

    Clyde Here:

    I just want to thank you and CSU for the lovely and unexpected gift, which I recieved the other day on my door step.

    When I opened the box I was really surprised and thrilled to recieve it.

    Again Thanks from the bottom of my heart.


    Clyde Ortego

  43. Robert B. Workman


    My name is Rob Workman from Smyrna, Delaware. My brother, Jon Workman, and I are both graduates of CSU. Jon earned a bachelor’s in Business and I hold two BS degrees (Criminal Justice Administration along with Occupational Safety & Health w/Fire Science).

    Currently, we operate the Silver Strand Foundation which is a non-profit organization that helps support families of fallen Navy SEALs and Navy SEALs transitioning out of the Teams that may be facing any number of challenges. In addition to honoring the Navy SEALs’ fallen we also keep the fallens’ memory alive through different missions, objectives, and events. Through many of our events we’re able to raise awareness and bring attention to important struggles and challenges that our SEALs and SEAL families are facing which include: PTSD, TBI, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) amputation, burns, etc.

    Please consider visting our Silver Strand Foundation facebook page to learn more about what two fellow CSU graduates are doing all across the United States of America to help our veterans.!/SilverStrandFoundation


    Robert B. Workman
    Silver Strand Foundation

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      Thank you for your post. I will look at your Facebook to see what all you are doing to make a difference for others. Thank you for your support to CSU. This is exciting that your brother as well also attended CSU. Looks like you are making a legacy through education. I hope you continue to help me encourage others students by blogging with me in the future.

      Thank you,


  44. Elbert Starks

    Hello Chantell, I had the pleasure of meeting you in person last week in Indianapolis. It was nice to meet you. Here’s my story. I am Combat Fire Captain in Fort Wayne, IN. I am a 17 year veteran with the department. I was born in Alabama but my family relocated to Indiana. I have been sitting on over 100 college credits for quite some time. I researched online degree programs, and found your college best suited me. I love the classroom assistance and the classes pertain to what I am striving for. My goal is to become a Health and Safety Officer at some point. It was nice to meet Alumni such as Tracy Barnes and Rick Lasky in Indy.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      It was great to meet you as well. We are so excited you chose CSU to help you finish your education. You as so close to getting your degree. We sure would love to see you at graduation when that time comes for you. Again, thank you for your support to CSU and make sure you let us know if you need any help as you continue through your courses.


    2. Tracy Barnes

      Hey Elbert!
      It was so great meeting you the other day in Indianapolis! You are such a great, charismatic guy. And what an incredible story you have. Thanks so much for all your service as a Combat Fire Captain. I really look up to you for what you do. Best of luck with the degree and we’ll be looking for your name as a Health & Safety Officer soon! Say hi to your dad. 🙂
      Take care.

    3. Chad Carey

      Hello Elbert, CSU is a great choice and if you are looking for the National HSO for the fire service, CSU will provide the minimum requirements for you to test out. Same with the national ISO, which you will need both to in order to apply for an safety officer variance within the State of Indiana, if that is your goal. Wish you luck, CSU program is well worth it.

  45. Elbert L Brown

    This is my little story: I too am like you. before joining the US Army. I had college from a tech school and wanted more. As years went all, I seek out more college credits through various other schools. Therefore I was told about CSU and I transfer all credits to them and later achieved and maintain not only one degree but three (3). Yes (3 degrees). Can you say, class of 2014 MBA-HRM confirmed.

    Grad Business Student
    Elbert Brown (Class of 2014).

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      We are so proud of your accomplishments. My goodness!! Three degrees! You are amazing! And yes, Class of 2014!! I hope to see you at graduation.

      Your CSU family,


  46. Chief Mike Tussey

    I would highly recommend Columbia Southern as a major part of any career path. Great instructors and very interesting classes.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author

      Dear Chief,

      Thank you for your post. We appreciate you supporting CSU and spreading the word. Our goal is to change and improve lives through education. Thank you again and I hope to have you continue to blog with me.

      Your CSU family,


  47. Roy Stewart

    I started my college work in 1972 receiving an Associate of Science Degree in Criminal Justice at Penn State. It took me “41 years in the making” due to career changes and completing the PA Dept. of Ed. requirements (8 years) for my teaching certifications in Pennsylvania, but I completed my bachelors degree in Criminal Justice Administration in September 2013. The course was exceptional and the professors were very helpful with questions that I asked and comments regarding my course work. The criminal justice program at CSU assisted me with preparing additional lesson plans in the school where I teach. I would highly recommend CSU to anyone wishing to complete their studies online.

    1. Tom Lansing

      Roy, now I don’t feel so bad. I started college when I first graduated from high school way back in 1969 when the local community college first opened its doors on September 17th. With about every fault of an 18 year old, and winning the draft lottery, I lost my college deferment, changed majors several times, was drafted in to the Army, ultimately got married, had two children, had the job responsibilities that did not agree with taking college courses, changed careers, finally got a job that I could take college courses, and got my associates degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management on the colleges 30th Anniversary. That is how I thought I was doing bad.

      About 2 years later, I was contacted by one of the Culinary Department’s instructors and asked if I would be interested in getting a B.B.A., in a new program that the community college was starting up. I finished that in 2008, in Hotel/Resort Management. Then I went to that instructor who was now the Dean of the Department of Culinary Arts, and Tourism, to see if he had anything else I could do other than be a gopher in the labs. His answer was “you have what 26 years as a cop, go and talk to the Dean of the Criminal Justice Department. He would probably hire you in an instant!” Which is exactly what the Dean said! “If you had a Masters Degree, I would hire you in an instant. I started my Masters Degree at CSU, in December of 2010, and finished one week before I had to go into the hospital for cancer surgery. I was at graduation in October of 2012! I did walk across the stage after earning a 4.0GPA, and my sheepskin. That was the best day of my life.

      Thank you CSU.

      Tom Lansing

  48. Mark Carrick

    I began my fire service journey in 1987 and for nearly 20 years after that I did not pursue any further formal education. Whether a lame excuse or not, my priorities were with raising my kids and being at home with them during my off time. In 1997, my wife of 14 years lost her battle with breast cancer which increased the importance of me concentrating on my family. Widowed with four small children, I certainly had my hands full. Back then I was not aware of Columbia Southern University and the on-line learning experience.

    Years later when I remarried and got my family life properly calibrated, I decided it was time for me to see that being a firefighter was a profession and not just a job. In my 40’s with great kids at home, I knew that I wanted to be a good example of continuous learning and show them by my own example. I remember telling them, “If you’re not learning something every day, you are moving backwards.”

    I heard of Columbia Southern through a colleague and decided to check them out. After a review of my transcripts I realized that my degree was quickly within reach so I enrolled in CSU’s AAS Fire Science program. I put my head down and leaned into the courses and found that school was actually enjoyable. Pretty soon my momentum carried me past the AAS goal and I continued pursuit of my BSFS degree which I completed in August of 2011.

    While I was in the process of completing my degree, my highly competitive daughter, Mykael Ann Jones, was pursuing her BSFS degree through CSU as well. We were neck and neck headed toward our goals and I think I edged her out by only a fraction of a GPA point. This competition made the learning process even that much more fun. We both enjoyed sharing the experience of walking in the CSU graduation in October of 2011. Mykael Ann has since completed her Master’s Degree in Emergency Services Management through CSU and I would like to think that my example of determined learning served as encouragement to her along the way.

    The experience I have had with Columbia Southern University throughout has been very positive. From helping the old guy on day one navigate Blackboard to ensuring that I had all my proper credentials in order for graduation, CSU was there all the way through.

    Since my time with Columbia Southern University, I have promoted to Assistant Chief serving as a Shift Commander over a battalion of fifty personnel. For the past three years I have been serving as the Assistant Chief of our Training/Professional Development Division. I have the best job in the world! I get to come to work every day having the opportunity to lead and encourage others, and share my story of educational success.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      I so loved your story. I am very sorry for your loss as well. I love how you turned the corner with education. Also, passing the legacy of education down to your children is incredible! I am proud of Mykael Ann as well and hope she is moving forward in her career. Thank you for your kind words for CSU. We are so proud of you and your accomplishments. I love to hear you received your promotion. We are here to change and improve lives and I see you moved it forward in your life. I hope you can continue to blog with me. You as well are a great encourager and motivator to other students.

      Your CSU family,


  49. Eric Branch

    Hello fellow students,
    Like many in my generation I started my family young and went to work to support them. Through many twist and turns and a few career changes, I found myself as safety manager where I currently work. Feeling that I needed some help with this change and being fortunate that the Company is picking up the bill, I enrolled in the BS-OSH program. I am nearing the halfway point in my studies and what I have learned has already been beneficial. I never thought I needed a degree to do my job, but the position I am in now almost demands it, and the investment the company is making only makes me more valuable to them, in this economy that is important. I am 53 years old, father and grandpa, and student… never thought I would say that about myself again. My best advice is to never waste a good opportunity to increase your education.

    God Bless all of you at CSU for your continued help,

    Eric Branch

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      Thank you for your post. Wow! You are amazing! You are an example of determination and persistence to go after your dream of education. You are pushing the legacy of education in your family. That is wonderful. I hope you continue to blog with me . You offer a great source of encouragement that we all need to hear.

      Your CSU family,


  50. Jeff

    Hi everybody,
    I am a Master Sergeant in the Air Force, I have served over 18 years now. I started out on my degree over 5 years ago. At times I found it hard to balance work, family and school but I pressed on to complete my degree and set myself up for another career after the military. I recently got deployed and set a personal goal that I would finish my degree while away from my family. I am now half way through my deployment and met my goal, all courses are completed for my degree. All that remains now is to return home, retire from the AF at 20 years and start my second career. Thanks to Columbia Southern I will now been armed with a bachelors degree to go with my military experience.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      You have a great story! We are very proud of you and your huge goal of education has been met. Most importantly, we appreciate you serving our country. I hope we can see you at graduation in the future. You are very important to the CSU family. Please keep in touch and blog with me as you can.


    2. Peter Eggebraaten

      Hi Jeff,

      There are a lot of employees who work at CSU who have done the exact same thing. Congratulations on your successful career in the military, but also thank you for setting the standard and being a positive role model for those wondering what they will do once they leave military service. You’re prepared and ahead of the game and I respect that.

  51. Erika Andrews

    Hello Chantell!

    From the CSU side of things, this place has done a lot for me!

    I was one of those people that once I graduate college it was really hard to find employment, even though I worked with Admissions, the Housing staff, and the Yearbook at my Alma Mater. I started applying for jobs in February of my graduating year, and by the time I walked for commencement in May with my Psychology degree, I had applied for well over 100 jobs. (I have a notebook full!) After relocating to the Foley area, I earned the respect of my employers by being organized, successfully completing tasks in a timely manner, and also going out of my way to assist anyone. Since moving here, I always worked 2 jobs and even had 3 at one point around the holidays (no fun at all). With this experience and my degree, I decided I needed to try and move myself towards the next level in hopes that I could attain a job with a customer service emphasis.

    I was hired in Student Services a couple years ago now, and am now in Faculty Services. I have definitely been molded to the University standards and enjoy the close knit family we have. Even when moving to a new office, everyone stopped to say hello and introduce themselves!

    I guess, as whole, thank you to CSU for giving people a chance and a direction to follow. Whether it is hiring at CSU or by providing assistance to students, I know this place is really helping people move forward in a positive way in their professional and personal lives!

    Have a great 4th of July!

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      Thank you for your post. I am so glad that CSU has been there for you. Our purpose here at CSU is to change and improve lives. We appreciate all our faculty and staff and know that together we are making a huge impact.

      Thank you again!


  52. Tina Shipp

    Hi Chantell!

    After reading through this blog, I just had to post my experience with CSU so others can be encouraged not to give up on their dreams, even when they have fear of failing to achieve them.

    I started working at CSU in January, 2003 as an Administrative Assistant, with an Associate of Arts degree from Faulkner State Community College. Unaware at the time that the university offered such an amazing tuition discount to employees, I began to consider beginning a bachelor’s degree with CSU, if I could find time to complete coursework and work full-time to support myself and my three boys (ages 9, 13 and 14). As a 37-year old single mom, without any assistance from their dad, I knew it was up to me to continue my education so I could earn a decent living and provide for my boys. The tuition discount was the main motivator in my decision.

    I swallowed my fear of failure and started classes in April 2003. Working diligently on my coursework between working full-time and attending sports and school-related activities, I was able to complete my bachelor degree within 18 months. I was so proud of myself for not giving up on my education, I immediately enrolled in the MBA program and completed it within a year.

    I have since promoted up through the ranks at CSU and have held multiple positions to include Operations Coordinator, Executive Assistant to the President, Director of Student Services and Retention, Director of Quality Assurance and most recently, Senior Reporting Analyst in the IT department. I love working for CSU because not only was I provided a means to complete my education but I now have a career, not just a job.

    A friend once told me “They can take your house, your car, sometimes even your kids away, but they can never take your education. What are you waiting for????”

    I heard that sentence over and over in my head as I pushed through the coursework, knowing that at the end of the day, I was improving myself through education and no one was going to take that achievement and life-long dream away from me!

  53. Mark

    Greeting Chantell!!

    When I joined the Air Force 19 years ago, the thought of obtaining a degree before I retired was unimaginable, yet today I am 1/2 a class from completing that goal. It was the Air Force’s AU-ABC program that led me the steps of CSU 4 years ago, and we (my family and I) will be attending Graduation in October.

    The achievement isn’t mine alone. I am married with 2 teenage daughters, and my sacrifices were their sacrifices, thus the “WE” are attending graduation as stated earlier. My wife told me “No” when often I was ready to give up, and my daughters gave me patience and understanding when homework took priority over “family time.” I feel like I have set the example for them, and that a legacy of higher education will live on.

    Military members make many sacrifices and not just abroad, but on US soil as well, but thanks to CSU and other colleges like it (a shout out to our sister college Waldorf), sacrificing an education a military member does not. Thank you CSU for Co-oping with the Community College of the Air Force!!

    God bless you and your family for what you have created.
    Mark McLean

  54. Glenn D

    Through much discipline and time management I completed my MBA while attending the Sergeants Major Academy between 2008 & 2009. I was driven by a peer/classmate who held the same MOS that I did and wanted to ensure that when promotions came around I’d be competitive. I was also driven to leading the example for my children. Well, the education I gained from CSU did get me promoted and was the example for my children, who are now college graduates, but most importantly, the education I received provided me the opportunity to land a position with a fortune 100 US company as a Sr. Manager, HR and a feature in the August Edition of G.I. Jobs Magazine. So, thank you CSU as I could not have made it his far without a solid education that challenged me to always aspire to learn and yes, share what you’ve learned. SGM (R) Glenn D.

  55. Darius Caswell

    Good afternoon Ms. Cooley,

    my name is Darius Caswell and I’ve completed earlier this year the BSBA Bachelors degree at Columbia Southern University, and indeed it proved to be a rewarding and fulfilling experience to say the least. However, since then I’ve corresponded with a few representatives from Columbia Southern University’s Career Services department, all have exhibited phenomenal support, assistance and guidance to the resources of opportunity that may be of help to any graduate student. One representative in particular, Sonya Lavett; who I’ve corresponded with, on many an occasion, since the beginning of the year has proven to be of tremendous help, guidance and resourcefulness to me. The ability and skills she possesses as both an educational advisor, information resource,in addition to her interactive professionalism is over and above that which I anticipated to receive from any representative. I will continue to ask for her consummate support and guidance that she has so aptly offered regarding such social online resources as Linked-in and CareerQuest. Please share with her the impact and fervour she provides to gradute students such as I, and what she reflects to CSU, on the whole, as a premier educational provider.

    Sincere thanks, Darius

  56. David Silvey


    Hi I’m David and very happy to be graduating this year with my MS in Occupational Safety and Health. I graduated CSU in 2011 with my BS in the same discipline and just wanted to say thanks to all the CSU staff, Teachers and students who made my adventure worth while. I am retired from the Army and a DOD civilian but was always certain I would pursue my College education, just a little nervous about getting started so late in life (50+). Again thanks for the great experience and see you all at the Oct 2014 ceremony!


  57. Lewis Womack

    Hello everyone. I have now received two degrees from CSU. One is an Associate and a Bachelor in Fire science. I carried both with an GPA of 4.0. I thought i never would go back to college at such an age as myself. My Capt. at the fire dept. showed me how the college classes work and thought well lets give it a try. I meet Sherry Twitty at a fire conference and handed her all my application materials and off i went. the success center at the college really made my life easier with the professional attitude to help me succeed. Everyone at the college was great to work with and the professors were outstanding to help when you are struggling to get by. I was seriously injured in my last year on my bachelor degree and my professor worked with my wife while i was unconscious in bed at the hospital. I woke up demanding my computer so i could do my work and actually threw a fit till i got my school work and was able to finish the work on time. My goal at first was to achieve my associate degree and cal it quits. then i went to graduation and meet Mrs. Cooley and President Mays along with the Board of Directors, change how i felt. Then the graduation really put me in the mood to get my bachelor degree the following year. I received my bachelor degree and now I am getting my masters in California and i hope to come to CSU and give back to the college and students the same treatment i received from the college and hope to help them achieve their goals they seek to achieve. I had one professor encourage me while i was in the hospital not o give up and go after my master degree. That same professor wrote on my grade report that ” i need to achieve my masters”. This University is about you inspiring yourself and other to achieve your goals and help other achieve theirs, I will miss graduation this year. That was the highlight of my life the past two year. Good luck to you all.

  58. Robert Hare

    I started back in college because of two people: The Sheriff of the Agency I presently work and my daughter. The Sheriff and I had a meeting about my long term goals and he told me to get ahead of everybody else is to achieve higher education. Then my daughter had just started high school and I informed her that until she got used to her workload, she was not allowed to participate in school activities. She was in the advanced program and one day she came to me and said it was too hard and wanted to go back to general studies. I told her that I was not going to allow her to stop everything she worked so hard for. I told her that I was going to prove a point to her and go back to school. I was going to show her that I could work, raise a family and get a college education.

    Two years later, she is a Junior and in senior advanced classes and just qualified for dual (college and high school) enrollment for next year. I have earned my Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice and have 6 classes left to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration. Afterwards, I will be going after my Master’s in Public Administration. My daughter and I now compete for highest grade point average.

    Being with CSU, I have also became the President of the American Criminal Justice Association and of the CSU Alumni – Atlanta Chapter. I have also just completed all the requirements for promotion to Sergeant with the Sheriff’s Office and was ranked #1 on the promotion list. All because of two individual people.

  59. Albert V. Condello III CSP CHMM

    I graduated in March, 2011 from CSU with a Masters of Science in Occupational Safety and Health with concentration in Environmental Management with Honors (GPA 4.0) I have recently passed
    the CSP (Comprehensive Practice) exam as of 10/29/2014. I am thankful to all of my Professors
    at CSU and appreciate the foundation that they provided me to be able to pass.

    I have been teaching since Fall, 2008 at the University of Houston Downtown as a Visiting Associate Professor/Lecturer in the BAAS Safety Management and BS Fire Protection Engineering programs offered in the College of Sciences and Technology.

    I have been working on obtaining my PhD in Safety Sciences from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and hope to graduate in December, 2016. I still have 4 more courses to take and then work on my dissertation. I will be taking electives in Environmental Engineering from Norwich University. I hope to eventually be able to sit for the FE (Fundamental of Engineering) exam in the area of Environmental Engineering.

    Over the summer, I have worked on five oil spills of national significance as Area Command – Safety.

    Student ID 175609

  60. Barry L Waller

    Hello! to you Chantell. I just thought I would share my story with you. My wife and I began in 2009 with our Bachelor’s, after finishing this we just sort of wondered what we would do with our time we were so use to doing our studies. Guess what, we continued on with our MBAs, after completing this we decided to go on. Now we are half way through our DBAs. All of this has been with Columbia Southern University, we love it. It has been a great time for us, we are hoping to be able to teach online classes after retirement. We took classes at another state college for about two years, it was not even close to CSU. We wish all of the students the best in achieving their goals.

  61. Loria Dewberry

    Hi Ms. Cooley, I wanted to also share my experience while attending CSU. I started with CSU in 2010 after completing my AAS degree with another college. I received my BBA in 2012 with Cum Laude honors and went on to acquire my MBA recently, conferred November 14, 2014. I had a wonderful experience with CSU for those 4 years. Everyone was so helpful and understanding. The instructors was rapid on responding when sending a question or having a concern. I don’t know what to do with myself, now that I don’t have homework. I feel like I am wasting time. Over the weekend, I re-apply to acquire another MBA with CSU in Organizational Leadership. I was not aware of the DBA program. I knew I had not seen the PhD program. I want to get all the skills and knowledge needed so when that perfect managerial job comes open I will be ready, even though you all have equipped me to be ready now, it just hasn’t come to me yet. I plan on going back to the CSU website and reading up on the DBA program, I believe that will be my next step. I am also interested in teaching online courses with CSU, but when I went to the job site, there was nothing in my field of study. Thank you all at CSU for what you do for us. I would have never thought six years ago that I would go back to school and earn what I have. I thank God for giving me the strength and patience that I needed to SUCCEED. I thank you all for having the right people in place when I needed someone, for every course I was required to take, Instructors, Student Reps, Advisors, Financial Aid Reps, Admission Reps, the President, CEO’s,Shareholders, everyone for their part in my life while at Columbia Southern University, my Alma Mater.

  62. Chantell Cooley Post author


    I am so proud of your accomplishment of earning your degrees. My goodness, look at your legacy! Thank you for believing in CSU and your support towards us. Keep moving forward and as you do I am sure you will change many lives!


    1. Loria A. Dewberry

      Hi Ms. Cooley, I did pursue that Master of Science, Organizational Leadership and my degree was conferred on March 31, 2016. I am so proud of me and for continuing to hold down that 4.0 GPA. I noticed that the DBA program is back at CSU, but by the time it returned, I was in my forth week of my Master’s of Public Administrations. I love being at CSU and I am thankful for all my past and future classmates who during discussions shared something I didn’t know or learned something from me. I am contemplating on attending graduation this year. I should walk the stage at least once for all of the accomplishments that I have made. I will see everyone in Orange County, Alabama!!! I wish you all a blessed future.

  63. Brett Welty

    Students and or Future Students,

    Please take a few minutes to review my experience with CSU. Let me first start off by saying there is no better administrative staff (admissions, financial aid, success center, book store, tech support, etc.) than the administrative staff at CSU. I say this because they are extremely friendly and will go out of their way to get you where you need to be. When I applied at CSU, it was awesome to find that CSU accepts professional training and will potentially give you credit for it, if it meets the specific criteria. I personally had several certificates and certifications through emergency services which I received credit for. This helped eliminate many of the required elective courses needed for me to earn my degree which was very beneficial. Additionally, the price of CSU is very reasonable compared to other universities. When people “shop around” for college educations, they will see how fair the cost per credit hour at CSU truly is. This too was a big selling point for me; quality education at a fair price.

    As a student, I had many great experiences at CSU. I found the success center very helpful, especially the writing center, and the website/student portal easy to navigate through as well. Also, I found that the designed term schedule was perfect for me. I was able to take two classes in an eight week term and still manage everything else going on in my life. During this time frame I worked full time (includes traveling), moved across the country twice, spent time with my daughter and wife (very important), worked on projects around the house, took the family on vacation (I actually took a final exam in another country), and still had time for myself (going to the gym and such). I found this is all to be very achievable and learned to do this at the beginning of my college career at CSU in the Student learning Success course. Simply put, I learned to manage my time.

    If I could deliver any message to those thinking about getting their degree, all I can say is “Do IT”! Once you obtain a degree it opens the door to so many other career possibilities. Since I enrolled at CSU, I have had two substantial promotions in my Occupational Safety and Health Career. I have gone from a field HSE Coordinator to a HSE District Supervisor in just over a years’ time. Then, just as I was graduating in October of 2014 with my bachelor’s degree, I was promoted again on the basis that I was about to graduate with honors and have performed very well at my job. I am now fulfilling the role of US Safety Supervisor for the company I work for. Recently, as the oil and gas industry is taking a down turn, I am also far more secure in my position as well. I have to say that I attribute my promotion and job security to the education that I received at CSU. The professors and the material studied at CSU were very relevant to my industry and have helped me develop into the leader that I am today.

    In closing, all I can say is “thank you” to everyone at CSU for the guidance, mentoring, coaching, and stellar education. It was an amazing journey! This year (2015) I plan to obtain my professional certifications; Associate Safety Professional (ASP) and then Certified Safety Professional (CSP). Also I have started working on a part time basis as an adjunct fire suppression instructor in the state of Pennsylvania. In 2016, I just may very well start another journey and go for my Master’s degree, hopefully through CSU.

    Please thank the staff and give them a high five as they deserve it! Especially the following professors that I had an excellent experience with: Robert Cook, Rebecca Kelley, Christina Spoons, Michael Capello, Travis Smith, Donnie West, Mathew Gaines, Arthur Deyo, Chris Blackburn, John Roades, Jafar Momani, Suzan Trotter from Accounting/Financial Aid, and Brett Amos my Academic Adviser.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      Thank you for our story and your encouraging words. I especially liked your statement, “Do it!”. Fitting education into a busy life is not easy but you did it! How encouraging to us all. We are proud of you and thank you for all the kind words you mentioned about our staff. Our goal is to change and improve lives through education.

      Thank you!


  64. Jim Shaw

    I have been part of the CSU family since 2005 and have finished several programs. I completed the AAS in Business, BS in HRM, and BS in OSH. I am currently enrolled in the MS in ESM. My journey with CSU has been great and it has given me the opportunity to excel in my professional and personal life. I was recently asked to Chair the Albany Technical College Industrial Systems Program Advisory Board (I graduated from the school with an AAS in Manufacturing Technology in 2003). I have also had the opportunity to support my Community as an advisor to the Local Emergency Planning Board and volunteer as a Safety Officer with the Civil Air Patrol. Much of this would not be possible without the support of the faculty and staff of the college and quality of instruction received. I have 9 more classes to complete the MS.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      Thank you for responding and letting us know your “CSU Story”. It is great that you have made education a part of your legacy. Thank you for your strong support and commitment to CSU. We are proud that you have gone after your graduate degree and hope to see you walk across the stage! Bravo!!


  65. Bo Scott

    My CSU story is probably very typical. I put my education on hold as a young man, primarily for financial reasons. I joined the Army and served there for 22 years, retiring after a very rewarding career in 2006. While I loved being a soldier, loved my comrades, and was proud to be part of something bigger than myself, I never finished college. When i retired, contracting jobs were everywhere, and I went to work before the ink was dry on my retirement certificate, making a very good living. Still, I did not buckle down and finish my degree.

    But all things come to an end, and so did that job. The rude awakening was that without at least a bachelor’s degree, I would never make it past the application process. For the last four or five months I worked as a contractor, I tried in vain to find the next opportunity. My resume, full of leadership and technical accomplishments, value added work for a profit driven company, business development achievements and more never made it past the HR department and into the hands of hiring managers. Without that block-“Bachelor’s degree”- checked, my countless applications were summarily deleted or thrown in the trash. At military job fairs, I drew more interest from college recruiters than from anyone hiring for a decent job. One hiring manager finally told me- you will not get hired without a degree, period. Combat skills are nice, but you don’t show me anything that translates to the corporate setting. Go back to school.

    So, I took a job in sales, which paid the bills, and I was good at it, but it was a dead end grind that I hated from day one. Simultaneously, I enrolled in CSU. For the next almost years, I struggled to keep my house, working two and three jobs, and going to class into the wee hours. All the while, I relentlessly filled out at least ten job applications daily, to no avail. If I got a response at all, it was “Excellent resume with regards to experience, but no degree. Sorry, but we will be going in a different direction.” I couldn’t buy a job interview.

    The generous credits awarded for my AARTS transcript and full credit for the college I completed in my younger days, coupled with the ability to double up on classes enabled me to finish my BS in Business/Project management quickly. I graduated June 28, 2013. I updated my resume, filled out five job applications, and took a long weekend ride on my motorcycle. I remember that date, and July 12, two weeks to the day later, I remember sitting at my dining room table with my wife, looking at not one, but three job offer letters, all exceeding my earning needs, weighing the pros and cons of each position. All five of my applications had netted in-person interviews, and three of the five offered me a position.

    It was only natural that as soon as I settled into my new project manager role with a major corporation, that I resume my education. The obvious choice was CSU. I do not regret a minute of it. The classes are relevant and current, the curriculum useful in my day to day role. I use the things I learn here on a daily basis. Every class brings with it new tools to apply to my job, and I am grateful for that.

    The organization of the school, the support from the enrollment staff, the excellent quality of the instructors, and the overall experience here has me singing the praises of CSU very regularly. Thank you.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      Thank you so much for taking the time to share this incredible inspiring story. While I am sorry to hear that you found yourself in a situation of not being able to find a suitable work, I am so happy that CSU was able to fill your need and that your story has a happy ending. It takes incredible motivation to complete a degree while working multiple jobs and caring for a family. Sitting at the table that day must have solidified that it was all worth it! Thank you again and please know that CSU is here for you any time you need us!

      Your CSU family,


  66. James Lund

    I decided to back to school back in 2010 and CSU did a great job giving me credit for work experience while I was on active duty in the Navy for over 20 years. In July 2011 I finished my Bachelors degree in Business Administration. After I completed my degree I decided it was time for me to retire from the Navy after 22 years as a retired Chief. I also decided that I wanted to pursue jobs in the manufacturing world and not in the military arena anymore. I have worked with Companies such as Kraft foods and now working in Irwindale California as a Senior Process Leader at MillerCoors making more than I ever imagined. Without going back to school this would of never happened and CSU was such a life saver not only was the course work convenient for me it was also challenging.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author


      Thank you for your service and thank you for choosing CSU to earn your bachelor’s degree. It sounds like you have worked hard and, as a result, have much success. I hope you have taken time to join the Alumni Association so you can stay in touch with us over the years. We love to hear your updates!

      Your CSU family,


  67. Bill Vela

    WOW!!! What fantastic story’s. I find that I am beginning to accept the challenge and go after my MS in Occupational Safety and Health/Environmental Management. I retired from the US Marine Corps in 1996, Finished my Bachelors of Science in Business Marketing in 2007. I currently hold the position of Safety Manager for an Aluminum foundry in OHIO. I have held many titles in safety both Construction and General Industry but desire ( at the young age of 59) to obtain a graduate degree. Thank you for helping me with this decision I will be Appling immediately. I would also like to personally thank all our Military Men and Women for their service to this great country and look forward to meeting you at graduation some day.
    Bill Vela
    Gy/Sgt USMC Ret.

  68. Chris Grady

    I started at CSU June 2011. I completed my AAS in Occupational Safety and Health in 2013, and I finished my Bachelors in the same field March 2015. I wanted to go to school for safety and it related to my job in the Navy and I really have a passion for it; at home, at work, driving and everything in between. CSU gave me the most credit for my military experience, and the flexibility was great because at the time I started I was a Navy recruiter. So I needed as much flexibility as possible. The course work was hard, but rewarding, the math tutors were awesome in helping me pass Finite math. I never had a problem with my classes, my TA, or anything. I’ve always recommended CSU to everyone I know for flexibility, price, and military credit. I am starting on my MPA from Liberty University who accepts CSU credits for their programs. I will be at the CSU graduation this year. I am looking forward to it.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author

      Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for your service! It is wonderful to hear that you stuck with the course and utilized the resources available to you in the Success Center. If you find that your new university doesn’t live up to you standards, you are always welcome to return to CSU to complete your MPA degree. We would love to have you. I look forward to seeing you at graduation!

      Your CSU family,


  69. Robert

    My story begins like so many others, with a yearning to get a degree. I finished high school in 1983, received my Associates degree in Nuclear Technology in 1985 at a community college in Tennessee, and started a career rand family. For years, I wanted to further my education but family and career came first. However, along the way I did get ordained as a Minister of the Gospel, but as far as an advanced degree it just wasn’t time enough. Finally after helping my wife raise oour 2 children and starting to have grandchildren it was time to shut up or put up. Traditional brick and mortar was out of the question, so I went online and got a BA in Environmental Studies at Ashford. This was 7 years after being diagnoised with Multiple Sclerosis. But a BA wasn’t where I wanted to be, I already had a job in Environmental so I wanted to push myself for more, and at a conference in Alaska I met a representative for CSU. I enrolled shortly after for a Master’s in Occupational Health and Safety with a concentration in Environmental. Graduating in June of this year with my MS, I have decided I am not through yet, so I am reenrolling in CSU in another Master’s degree for Emergency Management. On my educational quest I have driven from Seattle, WA to Charlotte, NC, my chilldren have given my wife and I 9 beautiful grandchildren, buried one parent and my other parent is very sick, been promoted at work, helped the church I teach Sunday School at to grow, trace my family tree back a long way, and written a book and had it self published, So I am excited to see where I will go and what I can get accomplished on this next leg of the journey.
    One of my favorite sayings, “Not every day is good, but every day has good in it”. So if you are alive it already is a good day. I have woke up blind and went to bed paralyzed, I can see and walk now so I say my life has been great thus far.

  70. Donna Zankowski

    I wanted to let other students know that a CSU degree is valued at the top graduate schools in the country. I graduated with a BS in occupational safety and health from CSU in 2012, and I was accepted into the MPH program for occupational and environmental health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. I was just awarded my MPH this past May – with the Dean’s scholastic achievement award : )
    I am grateful to CSU for making this possible! So… if you are wondering if your CSU degree will be of value in continuing your education – please know that it will be.

  71. Stacey

    Good morning CSU! I am first a mother of two wonderful daughters of 14 and 17 that keep me on my toes. Second I received my Paramedic in 1995 and worked full time for 20 years on the “truck”. I had a couple years of flying which I loved but my girls were young and they missed me when I was gone so far away so I came back to our local ambulance service. I then started to gradually begin the process of pre-req’s at my local college (on-line), slow process as my girls and full time worked kept me occupied; priorities. I then applied at UoPheonix in 2008 and received my BA of Management in 2012, again my girls came first so a slow progression.In 2010 I began to work in industry. When I was hired I knew only 1% of my job, paramedic. I have always loved dabbling with reading and applying OSHA regulations and other standards/laws and when I started in the safety department I realized there were so many more to throw myself at, NIOSH, NFPA, EPA, ect. I loved my job and the people I help guide to safe work. Although over a few years of gaining a vast amount of knowledge I discovered I loved OSH. My company, of around 500 total employees, agreed to send my through the Masters of OSH. I have learned so much and enjoyed and looked forward to every comment on my assignments from the amazing instructors at CSU. I have 4 more classes left and then will re-read all my books and study for the CSP.

    I am lucky to work with some amazingly knowledgeable people in my department and amazing employees throughout the plant that implants knowledge continually in my mind. I have been a life long learner. After all were would we be without learning? I believe you can always gain more knowledge and should especially in areas that you may be weak in. I choose a structured learning because I am a person that requires understanding the little details of “why” to fully understand how a process works. I want every little detail of “how” and “why”. I have found that passing this information on to other employees helps them better understand why they are doing what they are doing instead of just being told what to do. I have also found that when I ask how a chemical process works they can talk forever, I then follow through with why I do my job and the importance of them being safe. I have learned in the process of advocating and leading to safety I get the benefit of learning also.

    My girls have seen me doing college work since they were little so I am proud to say that my oldest, who has went from wanting to be pharmacist, to lawyer, to pharmacist, to finally Advanced Practicing Nurse is in 11th grade and starting her first two college classes after Christmas break. She is planning on having all her pre-req’s complete before finishing high school so that she my go straight to the RN program at a local college, then transfering to ASU to recieve her BSN, and then UAMS (a working trauma I teaching hospital) to recieve her APN specializing in Pediatrics. My youngest is planning on going to ASU to prepare for vet school at Texas A&M, then to Florida for Marine Vet. She also started 9th grade next years and says “I will be valedvictorian for my class” I’m so proud of my girls and their determination to reach their goals; no matter if they are as presently planned or change along the way. I will always be beside them.

    Thank you CSU for your dedication and great selection on assignments and instructors. I believe that reading the entire book is the way to best gain complete knowledge even if it is NFPA 25 standards, 🙂 I secretly enjoy reading it though. I have tried to anticipate what my new classes will be about but they have always been above my anticipation and expectations. I hope to bring my girls and walk in 2016. You all are preparing me for greatness and I thank you all.

    P.S. I agree that you should provide a PhD in OSH. I’m game and will be waiting.

    1. Stacey

      Oh by the way, I tried to contact someone about attending our EMS conference but never got a reply. I think you can change some lives of many people if you will go to the National conferences (JEMS and EMS Expo) for EMS. Also come to Arkansas EMS conference it is usually in July in Hot Springs.

  72. Richard Frame

    Hello CSU family!

    It is amazing how many of the stories here parallel each other. My story is much like many of the others here; I spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy Seabees, worked for another 10 years for the City of McKinney, Texas, branched out for more experience and opportunity, and at some point realized that my dreams and aspirations were not going to get fulfilled unless I had a degree to help. In my search for schooling that met my life needs and circumstances, many voices along the way warned me of “On-Line” schools, if it was not regionally accredited or a “brick and mortar” institution I was wasting my time and money. However, as with any decision of this magnitude, one must do a considerable amount of research and due diligence in order to make the best decision for their situation. In some cases, CSU may not be the right fit for the need, it just happened to be for me, and I tell you why.
    I had already been working in the safety field part time, not too much experience but I know how to sell myself, and I was always able to get what I was shooting for. I knew of the Certified Safety Professional certification from BCSP, this is the “gold standard” for safety professionals, there is no other safety certification that carries the weight of the CSP. The BCSP requires a BS degree to be eligible for the certification, and they list the schools that qualify for that requirement, both regional and nationally accredited, CSU falls under that list of approved schools. That is all it took for me and I was on my way to a BS in OS&H.
    I graduated in February of 2013, Magna cum Laude, and I currently work for a global organization as their EH&S manager. I am also currently working on my ASP certification which I plan to achieve this year.
    Remember, there are three things you need to make this a successful venture, a dream, a goal, and a plan. I don’t recommend that you start without all three in place, otherwise you may be setting yourself up for failure before you even start.



  73. James Cupp

    Hello fellow students, as I read the replies to this blog, to steal a line from an earlier post, it is the same encouraging story time and time again. I too am in the USAF Air Guard and am working toward my Bachelor in Criminal Justice. As many know the emphasis on higher education to be eligible for promotion is a reality and I, like a few others in my unit, have strapped up our boots and dove in to our education.
    Since I am Active and do not want to overburden myself, I take 1 class at a time. When I left college, over 21 years ago, I had a 2.013 GPA and now carry a 3.88. I just want to thank all of the professors at CSU for guiding me in the right direction and fulfilling a dream to graduate college.

  74. Greg Carroll

    Hello Knights!

    I started my MBA with CSU in 2013 and then I took two years off. I then retired from the navy after 30 years in October 2015, and decided to take a year off. During that year, which ends this October 1, 2016, I went back to CSU in September 2015 and finished the MBA/Project Management and will walk in October. I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you to CSU for a great experience and to recognize a few people that helped along the way. For starters, I’d like to thank Stacy Ramsey and Donna Stacey for being excellent advisors who always replied to my questions very quickly and thoroughly. Next I’d like to say thanks to the writing center staff, specifically, Matthew, Tamara, Derik, and Lindsay as they were a tremendous resource
    for providing the assistance I needed with my writing and making my assignment submissions a better product. I would like to thank the librarians who helped me with my research. Lastly, I thank the professors
    for their dedication, challenging coursework, and their helpful feedback on my assignment submissions.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author

      Congrats on your degree, Greg! I am so glad our talented faculty and staff helped you every step of the way!

  75. Gene Hansen

    I thought I would share my own story after having successfully completed my requirements for a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Safety and Health with a GPA of 3.93. I had my degree conferred March 2016. As a teenager I had a difficult time attending school, having grown up in a poverty stricken area in New York City, out running the streets and dropping out of high school while still in the 9th grade. I knew I was going nowhere fast. I joined the Navy right after I turned 17 and spent the next 24 years having a successful Navy career. I achieved the rank of Chief Petty Officer in only 9 years, not bad for not having a high school diploma. Knowing I needed to better myself and to better prepare for retirement I decided to give school another shot and the first step was to get my GED, I went in and just took it and easily passed it. I then went on to CLEP over 45 semester hours and just before I retired I completed my associate’s degree through another online university. Retired with a wife and two sons in high school I was looking for a job I realized that my associates degree and experience were only going to get me so far, luckily I managed to find a few jobs nothing which I was happy with or would make another career out of. After 5 jobs in 5 years I got lucky and found my new career in the safety field.

    I started looking for a degree program that would help me grow in my current profession as a Safety Manager. CSU was just what I was looking for! It enabled me to balance work, family and was accepted for the GI Bill program and was just what I needed. After having my CLEP exams, a few previous college classes I had 42 hours left to complete my bachelor’s degree. 14 months later I had completed my goal of completing a Bachelor’s Degree! Being 50 years old as I went back to school I was a bit intimidated by the thought, but after getting started that thought quickly vanished. The professors were all first rate, timely in their feedback and available if I had any questions. While having worked safety throughout my 24 years in the military I thought I was pretty knowledgeable, wow did I have a lot to learn! During the 14 months I was going to CSU, the knowledge I gained has helped tremendously in my current position. It has increased my confidence and knowledge level and has also made me more competitive with my peers as I search for greater responsibility in the field. I have re-enrolled and will be going back and getting my Master’s degree starting in Oct 2016. Since my degrees are accredited through the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) I am also looking at acquiring a few Safety Certifications as well. None of this would have been possible without having attended CSU! I would highly recommend CSU for anyone wanting to get their degree while balancing a job, and home life! While it was not always easy it has been a rewarding journey!

    Many Thanks to my CSU professors guiding me and my wife who put up with those long hours in the den studying!

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author

      Thank you Gene for sharing your story! What a way to persevere through life! We are so proud of your accomplishments. Keep up the good work!

    2. Gene Hansen

      Thanks to all, quick update I had my Masters in Occupational Safety/Environmental Management conferred in July 2018, and I will be walking for my graduation the end of this week! It was tough but glad I am finished!

  76. Antonio Scolley

    Hello fellow students. I guess my story starts with me being a “bad kid” as my wife says, and was kicked out of high school 3 months before graduation in 1984. I got my GED while serving in the Army, and never thought of going further with my education.
    After the military service, I began working for a food manufacturing company at the entry level and worked may way up the labor ranks. After 20 years of service was given the opportunity to manage the human resources department with no training or education for the position. I soon learned that I needed an education for such a position, but did not get such an opportunity. I volunteered with the local Fire Department, Emergency Medical Service, and Law Enforcement obtaining certifications for each to volunteer.
    5 years ago I made a change and began a new career working for a world renowned company in a Supervisory position. I was then given the opportunity to work strictly in the field of safety and have found my calling, my passion. Managerial positions have come up within this company that I thought I could obtain through merit as I had previously, this was not the case. To move up with this wonderful company I work for will require education documentation.
    Through internet searches and a lot of reading about online universities, I found this magnificent school, applied, enrolled, and began my journey of higher learning. After more than 30 years, I was a college student; something I never even thought about.
    3 hours short of reaching the Junior year mark, my 13 year old son moved to Heaven to live with the Father. 2 days before my next semester was to start, but I knew school would not be possible during this time, and stopped the enrollment.
    October 5th I will begin my courses again, and am eager to get back at it. I did not realize how exciting learning could be at my age now. I look forward to reading the Blackboard posts and comments of my classmates.
    With all this said, I have never wore a cap and gown, I do intend to wear one this time with pride and confidence that I can make a difference in this world.

    1. Chantell Cooley Post author

      Wow! What a story Antonio. You are an inspiration to so many. You turned your life around in a major way and have found success with CSU. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me!

    2. Kathleen Cline

      First , Thank you for your service. I am the wife of a Navy Veteran myself. I know how hard that can be. Second, my heart goes out for the loss of your son. My biggest fear. I am happy to hear you have a Christian belief and know he is waiting for you. Good going on the degree. I sincerely hope you did not give up on your volunteer services. First responders who care are in short supply.

  77. Jason Sanchez

    When I finished high school in 1998 I gave my local community college a try while trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to do as a future. After one semester at the community college I determined (as a wise 19 year old) that college wasn’t for me so I entered into a paramedic program where I obtained my paramedic certification and was blessed to be hired as a career firefighter/paramedic. Several years went by when I decided to obtain my associate degree from my local community college. Completing my associate degree set into motion my desire to continue my education and work towards obtaining a bachelors degree. I first enrolled at CSU in 2008. At the time I started looking at requirements to attend the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program and found that because CSU was not regionally accredited I would be unable to EFO with a degree from CSU. Still with the goal of obtaining a bachelors degree I enrolled in an online state university program and completed several classes. At the end of 2008 I made the decision to explore a career change and became a law enforcement officer. While working as a LEO I obtained another associate degree in the area of criminal justice. I returned to the fire service in 2011 while still continuing to pursue a bachelors degree. I found out that the EFO requirements had changed and degrees from CSU were being recognized by the National Fire Academy. As soon as I found out this information I immediately began taking the necessary steps to re-enroll at CSU. I completed the enrollment process and submitted all my previous educational transcripts. CSU graciously accepted many of the courses I had previously completed at other colleges and universities without hesitation. I slowly completed a couple of courses at a time while working fulltime and part-time jobs and keeping up with family obligations. I spent many nights up late working on assignments after everyone in my house had gone to bed and working on assignments in between emergency incidents while at work. My wife jokingly tells people that I have been in school ever since she met me 11 years ago. I am delighted to say that I have completed all the requirements for a bachelors degree in Fire Administration. I do not believe I would have been able to reach this milestone had it not been for Columbia Southern University. The staff and faculty at CSU were outstanding throughout my experience. Although I never step foot into a physical classroom I felt like CSU staff wanted nothing but for me to succeed. I took a couple of months off from classes and it made me feel good to receive a phone call from a member of CSU checking to see how I was doing and they were there if I needed any assistance. To me this is what sets CSU apart from other distance learning institutions.

  78. Shanika Cole

    Greetings CSU Family, my name is Shanika Cole I became a student March of this year, continuing my education in healthcare administration management. I have been inconsistently pursing a degree in healthcare since August 2009. I transferred with 68 college credits and an eagerness to gain a degree, my nephew was murdered a week after I began my courses at CSU leaving my family and me with the responsibility of providing him a proper burial. I withdrew from the courses in which I was enrolled to fulfill this obligation and mainly to grieve the loss I had suffered. The following term I enrolled and have done so each term after maintaining a GPA of 4.0. Like most of the stories I read I have experienced many obstacles but I believe that my trials will bring triumph and I will not give up on my dreams despite the circumstances that I may encounter. I am determined to earn my degree and represent CSU class of 2018! Best wishes to all of you with your future endeavors and may god bless you 🙂

  79. Dorrie Burgess

    My story is lengthy, since I’ve lived quite a life since leaving high school in 1981. To say it was scary to return to school in my late 40’s would be an understatement. I’d married a few times, had a few kids, and some career changes too. I found myself passionate about safety after learning more about workers comp than I wanted to in 1999 while managing my own injury case. It was clear to me that my new found knowledge and organization/administrative/technical skills were a great fit for helping others with safety. My background was in construction, as my family owned a general contracting business – and I was sure that I could do a better job at interfacing with my co-workers and management than the current safety support we were provided. My ego soon learned I was incorrect in making assumptions, primarily because I was given safety responsibilities that were certainly helpful in teaching me much about my career choice! I lost a few mentors along the way, some of them painfully so. In the years of the industry choices, my option to remain responsible to my family turned me toward government contracting – which seemed safer overall. That’s where I’ve ended up, with a few years in between contracts when I was out consulting too, and all that time while traveling all over the world as a safety consultant, I was able to continue my studies with CSU and graduated with my BS in Occupational Safety and Health in June 2016. I’ve enrolled to continue on to my Masters in OSH which I start in January 2017 – and I am very happy with my choice to continue my journey with CSU – especially after meeting key staff members while at Commencement this past October. I’m the first person in my immediate family to complete a college degree for 3 generations prior to me, and I hope to continue to set the example for my children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, I did not graduate with honors, but the biggest support system I could have in my Mother reminded me “even B’s get degrees” and “don’t give up, no matter what” from my grandson!! Those words echo around my CSU textbooks I look at frequently at work and at home. I’m going to hopefully graduate with a Masters in OSH in my 55th year of life in 2018, and my message to ANYONE is, you’re never too old to learn something new! I was proud to be one of the oldest graduates at 2016’s commencement ceremony, and honored to have my last living parent in the audience as well. Seeing her beaming smile as I walked around the auditorium with my classmates was well worth it…

  80. Kathleen Cline

    I’m Kathleen Cline, Kathie for short. I’m a 47 yr old mom and Nana. I love my family. right now I am struggling with not being able to see my grand daughter. I had guardianship of her for 7 months till mom got her self together. But because I had to go to court to get the child out of a bad situation mom is now in I hate you mode. Its the hardest thing to deal with as this is my ONLY grand DAUGHTER. I’m fighting now to try to change laws here in Oklahoma to give grandparents rights we currently don’t have. I am a psychology major here at CSU getting my bachelors degree. I love people, how they think, what makes them tick. I want to help people heal their minds from past traumas. Kids specifically. My goal is to counsel kids in foster care to transition from family to foster and back to family again or whatever awaits them in the future.
    All my life I can remember sitting watching people walk by and trying to read what is going on with them. Where are they going? What is there plan? Are they happy, sad, angry? At who or whom? Just people watching. Growing up in NJ so close to the beach made this very possible. Sit on a bench in a crowded park one day and watch people. Really see them, study their body language, see how they walk or run. Its amazing to see the world from inside other peoples possible thoughts.

  81. Aubrey P.

    Good Day CSU Students, Staff and Graduates,

    I’m Aubrey and I have been informed that my Master’s degree in Emergency Service Management will be conferred, next week. My education story has been a long road to get to this point. I was an average student in high school and after graduation, I went to a junior college, before my grades suffered and I was place on academic probation and eventually I had to sit out a semester. During that time, I went to work for my father, working on a dairy farm for about nine months, before transferring to another junior college and changing my degree program. My GPA did improve, but I just felt behind, compared to my high school classmates and I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.

    I was in the Security Police career field and at that time it was nearly impossible in the late 80’s and early 90’s to go to college, when working shift work (3 swings, 3 midnights & 3 days off, unless there was a week exercise). There were no on-line degree programs at that time and computers were just coming out to be affordable for homes, I think my first computer was in 1993 or 1994. In 1994, I went to an assignment, where I was on permanent midnight shifts, which allowed me the opportunity to go to the local community college in the afternoon before going to work at night. I was able to complete the requirements and earn an Associates in Applied Science degree in security administration, in 1996.

    Later on, I retrained and was able to complete another Associates in Applied Science degree in Safety in 2001. It was in 2003, that my boss (Major Brown), asked me about my education goals during a feedback session and talked about Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which had just opened a branch at the Education Center, while I was overseas. I meet with the representative and completed the application, along with transcript requests. When the review came back I was half way to a Bachelor degree in Technical Management. I was able to complete my degree before I retired in 2008, but it was a combination of taking on-line classes with Embry-Riddle and traditional classrooms with another college to finish it. Between 2004 and 2008, I deployed and moved to another overseas location, during the completion of the 60 semester hours.

    Initially, I wanted to start at CSU in 2009, but I moved to take a promotion in another state and had some other life events that came up. Finally in 2012, I started my journey with CSU with Master’s in Occupational Safety and Health, then completed a graduate level certificate in Environmental Management. I just finished my second Master’s in Emergency Services Management.

    I would love to be there and walk across the stage for graduation in October, but like with my other two degrees, I will not be able to, unless something changes. It’s never too late for you to start the process in either starting out or continuing to your educational goals. During my time at CSU, I witness the birth of my twin daughters and one with some medical issues and lots of doctor appointments. I became very good at time management and working on my assignments after the girls were asleep. The CSU staff has been great and the CSU Student Success Center has provided outstanding support during my time.

    I am happy that I’m part of the CSU family!

    1. Libby Reilly

      Hi Aubrey,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. Like many of our students, it sounds like you have overcome many challenges to get where you are. We are so proud to have you in the CSU family and wish you all the best in your future!

      Brittany Gibson
      Content Manager
      Columbia Southern University

      1. Aubrey P.


        Thank and my hope is that future and current students will read this, to understand that there are many life challenges, but that the CSU family and Student Success Center can guide and assist in accomplishing their goals and that there is a support system in place for their use. I don’t know and I can’t remember that far back during my junior college experience if there was a support system. I would ask for assistance from some of my classmates, when I didn’t understand it, back then. I know that every time that I talked with a member of the CSU Student Success Center, they would answer my questions and would explain it to were I understood it.


  82. Douglas Simpson

    I want to start by saying that I am so glad I stumbled upon Columbia Southern University. I am only in my first term with CSU, but so far I am enjoying every minute of it. I have searched, off and on, for 10 years trying to find the right degree at the right school that also offered the flexibility and price that I needed. CSU is exactly what I was looking for.

    I quit High School my Senior year, not once but twice. I was a single dad at the time and just couldn’t work, go to school and take care of my son. I opted for a GED instead and then tried a Community College. That only lasted two semesters until I joined the Air Force. I obtained many college credits while serving, but never wanted to build on them. I served 6 years and decided it was time to move on to other things. Thankfully my experience in the Air Force gave me a career that I could pursue in the civilian world.

    Ultimately that led me to want and need for education. So I enrolled in several Certificate Programs at Purdue University and the University of Georgia. After completing those I had the “learning bug” I guess. I wanted more, but I couldn’t decide what to study. I remembered my love for art and an offer from a school back when I was in Middle School. The Art Institute came to my house when I was 14 years old and told me that I should attend their school when I was able. So, I thought, here was my chance. I enrolled and made it through two terms, but just couldn’t stay. What a horrible experience that was. The worst part is that experience made me leery of all for-profit Schools and online learning in general.

    A year later I still had the itch to learn and get a Bachelors degree, so I searched some more. I stumbled upon Columbia Southern when I was looking into Colorado State University Global Campus. After looking at both schools and talking to the staff, I chose Columbia Southern and have no regrets. I never got that for-profit vibe here and the staff has always been so helpful and nice. The price was also a nice surprise. I just want to say thank you for providing this opportunity to people like me. Us working adults with little time and money to further our education, need a place like CSU that understands the difficulties we face. My hope is to complete my B.S in Environmental Management and then get a M.S in either Public Health or OSH with and emphasis in Environmental Management here as well.

    Douglas Simpson, LIC, PCO

    1. Libby Reilly

      Douglas, thank you for taking the time to share your story with us! Your commitment to your country, your family, and your future is apparent. We are so glad your journey brought you to CSU and that your experience as a Knight has been a great one! It is because of students like you that CSU is what we are today.


      Libby Reilly
      CSU Marketing

  83. Yaiset Gonzalez

    Good Day CSU Students and Staff,
    My name is Yaiset Gonzalez; I am a 35 years old and a mother of two sons. My boys are my life, one is a teenager and the other is 4 years old. I was born in Cuba in 1982, and I did my bachelor’s degree in Cuba as an Industrial Engineer. My primary language is Spanish and before deciding to come on board to CSU, I had to consider my job as well. I work at a Full time job that requires me to travel at least 40% of my time during the year and even sometimes 90% of my time during a month. Having this background a lot of people around me advised me not to start my master’s degree. Those who voiced their concerns, stating that I will not have the time to do the assignments or I will not have the time to study and so on. Nonetheless, it will be almost 2 years since I started and on October 27, 2017, I will be receiving my M.S. in Occupational Safety & Health/Environmental Management. I am very proud of myself and my kids are even more prouder to have seen their mother achieve this accomplishment. It has been a long way, full of scarifies, tears and lack of sleep. But I cannot be more grateful of CSU to have given me the opportunity and allowed me to be part of this great institution.

    1. Libby Reilly

      Good morning, Yaiset! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with us. It is evident that you work hard for the things that are important to you; you should be very proud of yourself! We are so glad you are a part of the CSU family.


      Libby Reilly
      CSU Marketing

  84. Daniel Root

    CSU students and faculty,

    I like many others spend a great deal of time in the military, (23 years to be exact), I am a retired Army Sergeant First Class, who put the military before himself, taking classes here and there. I was finally able to finish my AA/BS/MBA here at CSU. Such great professors and facility here at CSU, I steadily rose to the challenge by earning Cum Laude honors during my undergraduate studies, and maintained a 4.0 GPA in my MBA studies. Overall excellent experience from top to bottom, and my wife is enrolled in her first college class ever thanks to the way CSU took care of me. Good luck to all in their future endeavours.

    1. Libby Reilly

      Daniel, thank you so much for your service and for sharing your story! You have accomplished great goals and we are very proud to have you as part of the CSU family.

      -Libby Reilly
      CSU Marketing

  85. Charlie Witt

    I am a “new” student at CSU. I will be beginning my MBA program in a couple of weeks.
    Like many here, I waited until I was a little older to go back to school. I received my Associates in IT when I was 47; my Bachelors in Project Management when I was 50. Now, I have decided to continue to my MBA.
    I have an established career with an amazing company and hope that my graduate degree will help me further advance my career.
    But, the primary reason I decided to return to school was due to my mother. She begged me to go back to school and get a degree for most of my life. I finally relented and I could see the pride in her eyes when I walked to receive my Associates. As fate would have it, she passed away eight weeks before I graduated with my Bachelors, but I knew she was there with me. And I plan on obtaining my Masters as a tribute to her pushing me to be a better me.

    1. Libby Reilly

      Hello, Charlie. Thank you so much for sharing your story. We are very proud of all you have accomplished! We are also sorry to hear about your mother’s passing. Good luck as you continue your educational pursuit and know that we are cheering you on every step of the way! If you would like to share more of your story, please fill out this testimonial form:

      Thank you,

      Libby Reilly
      Communications Coordinator
      CSU Marketing

  86. Daniel J Hughes

    I graduated High School with a 2.7 GPA but I was an athlete and world class for my age. I took a scholarship to the University of Hawaii for cross country and track. Six short weeks later I was kicked out of school for failing to attend even one class. The University had already spent more money on me than I was worth. I enlisted in the US Army in 1972 and I was badly injured in 1973. My days as an athlete were over for the most part and recovery along with PTSD held me back by dominating my life for several years following the event. I tried college off and on but, I lacked the discipline and the motivation. I got into full time safety and emergency response in 1984 and began to see life differently. I was smart enough and capable enough to learn and teach fire fighting, hazardous materials and rescue. By the late 1980’s I was raising a family, working fire and safety full time and I didn’t have time for school. I am now in the twilight of a successful safety and health career and I graduated from CSU with a Bachelors Degree in 2016. It was a proud moment for me to walk the walk in cap and gown. From being thrown out of college to graduating Magna Cum Laude and now I am enrolled in the Masters Program. I am proud to say I finished college at age 62 but, the truth is I am not done yet. And I credit CSU for making my dream possible.

  87. Chris Huffstutter

    Hello all. I graduated from CSU in 2016 with an AAS in Occupational Health & Safety. At that time I was a Safety Manager over electrical utility projects for a major international construction contractor. Although I had been a journeyman in the field for many years, I was looking increase my knowledge in OSH and also be recognized by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals for certification eligibility. This was proven true after after being accepted to sit for the ASP & CSP exams shortly after graduation. Since that time I landed a position as the Construction Supervisor over electrical transmission and substation capital projects for a major investor owned utility back home in Kansas. I was told after I started the position that my safety knowledge played a part in getting hired for the job and continue to receive positive remarks in that area on every performance evaluation. Thank you CSU for your flexibilty, generously accepting transfer credit and facilitating my career goals.

    1. Libby Reilly

      Hi, Chris! That’s wonderful. Congratulations on your career advancement and all your hard work.

  88. Antonio Scolley

    Hello fellow CSU students and faculty. I am a High School Kick out for disciplinary problems who got his GED while serving in the U. S. Army. In 1994 my employer moved me into a supervisory position in the safety field to help battle union efforts within the plant. I have served as a volunteer firefighter for 15 years, EMT-B for 8 years, and a Reserve Deputy Sheriff for 10 years before leaving all that for the love of alcohol. I found a woman and the Lord who helped me defeat my drinking problem and a good job teaching safety. I lost my 13 year old son in July of 2016, and the staff allowed me time to grieve without kicking me out of another school. Now I find myself wanting to advance (enter into a management position) within the company but lack that little piece of paper that employers find so important. My wife finally got me to honestly look at college and found CSU in a web search. I applied and was excited when I received an acceptance to attend. I now have my AS in Occupational Safety and Health and am continuing for my BS. I have had nothing but positive interactions with professors and students through my online communications, Discussion Boards, etc. I would like to pursue a Masters, but have also agreed to get my wife back in college when I complete my BS, so the Masters may be a slow or delayed process. Thank you CSU for allowing me to #1 attend this great institution, and #2 for having such a caring and professional staff to me to work with. Good luck everyone with your goals here at CSU.

    1. Libby Reilly

      Good morning, Antonio. Thank you for sharing your story! That is quite a testimony and journey to where you are today. We are so happy you are a CSU Knight.

  89. Roger "Lee" Brewer

    I got into changing my career through a supervisor that I had. God had also given me the feeling that I need to take my experiences and put them to use in helping others. It was my Safety Manager that had told me about different safety programs that he had looked into. I took the initiative and started to pursue this course. I had completed one long program before coming to CSU. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity that has been given me here. I was started off as a junior. I have been doing one class at a time now for over 4 years. I have been able to do do mine completely debt free. I have not had any time between classes. I have had companies shut down on me during this time. I did not get a job right away in the field of Safety. It took alot of time and patience. I finally have a job in safety as I get into my last year and of completing my degree. My boss supports me in my pursuit of my degree. The work shcedule that I have had has been long days starting as early as 3am and not ending till 10 pm or later. I would study and do my homework at times on location while we had down time. There are times when I struggled to stay on top of the class work or just to get signed up. God has blessed me with the ability to to keep on top and be able to reach my goal.