June 22, 2024

Self-Motivation Paved the Way for Young Executive, CSU Graduate Jonathan Dayton

Jonathan Dayton has checked a lot of boxes in his career. He completed his associate degree in fire science at CSU, earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology, a Master of Science in management leadership and is currently working on his doctorate degree.

In addition to his success in academics, Dayton works as an executive director for a non-profit organization, participates in speaking engagements around the country and hosts a podcast, all while running for local office.  On the surface it would appear Dayton has led a full career up to this point; however, one thing to note about the CSU alumnus, is that he is only 23 years old.

“I have been able to obtain my dream job, an executive-level job at the age of 23,” said Dayton. “All of the classes I have taken towards my degree have impacted my career in ways beyond the content of the course.”

Early on in his career, Dayton earned a fire science degree to give back to his community through becoming a volunteer firefighter and EMT. This passion opened doors for him to travel around the country speaking on the topic of fire service generational leadership.

“In the fire service, you learn many valuable skills that carry over to the career world and, in my case, health care,” he said.

Dayton serves as the executive director of the Maryland Rural Health Association, a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate and advocate for the optimal health and wellness of rural communities and their residents. Having a high rank at such a young age, Dayton says the intimidation is there, but so is the motivation.

“I remember joining a health center board of directors at 19 and I caught so much backlash for not being experienced enough. I have learned that no matter what you accomplish in life, people will always feel some jealousy,” he said. “I often feel like it’s a chip on my shoulder and something that I need to prove, but this also motivates me to be the best I can be.”

With everything Dayton has accomplished in life thus far, he says investing in your education and career is ultimately investing in those close to you.

“Ensuring that my education can propel me into good-paying jobs and opportunities that I wouldn’t have found otherwise is very important because that ultimately impacts my family,” he said.

From a thriving 23-year-old executive, it is nearly impossible to succeed without self-motivation.

“You have to be a self-motivated individual or things will begin to fall through the cracks. The road to where I am didn’t come easy. Interview after interview, I was turned down, and now I sit above all of the other jobs that I once wasn’t given a chance at,” he said. “Your time will come with hard work and perseverance.”

To learn more about Dayton’s work with the Maryland Rural Health Association, visit


 This testimonial may not reflect the typical or ordinary experience of CSU students

Disclaimer: These testimonials may not reflect the experience of all CSU students.
Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography, and degree field, affect career outcomes.
CSU does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, eligibility for a position, or other career growth.