Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Featured Learner series: Peirce student continues studies while deployed

STUDYING FROM AFAR: With the help of his classmates,
Anthony Williams completed coursework while deployed.

Before Commencement, we spoke to two very special members of the class of 2014: Anthony and Natasha Williams, a married couple who have supported each other throughout their time at Peirce and graduated side-by-side on June 9.
During that conversation, we learned that Anthony had completed a portion of his degree while he was deployed with the National Guard. Because the College is passionate about supporting military veterans and active service members, we were excited to talk to him more about that experience.  Anthony generously sat down with us to answer some questions. Enjoy reading and learning more about Anthony, below.

 Q: What made you decide to join the National Guard?
A: It was something that had always piqued my interest; so finally, I took the test and was accepted. I started off as a Private and worked my way up to a Staff Sergeant, which is my current rank. I have been on two deployments – the first one was to Egypt and the second one was to Kuwait.

 Q: When you were deciding whether or not to go back to get your degree -- knowing that you would be active in the National Guard -- was choosing a school that works well with military members a factor in that decision?
A: Sort of – At the time, I had no way of knowing exactly how well it would all turn out with Peirce. While I was in Kuwait, Internet access wasn’t always available, and sometimes I had to write papers and do other assignments from my iPhone.  So, that was challenging but everyone at Peirce was very understanding.

Q: What was it like completing assignments from across the world from your professors and classmates? Tell us about your workspace over there.
A: Sure. I had access to the Internet once we got over there, but it was the transition that was a challenge. You have to go to a training facility and train for a couple of months before actually leaving, and that was the time I had to use my cell phone to write my papers and my response questions, and take quizzes. But once I got there, I was able to purchase Internet usage and use my laptop. I also had to order my books ahead of time and have them sent there.

Q: Have you been able to use your experiences in the military to help you as a student?
A: My experience as an NCO (Non-Commission Officer) helped me out. Being in a position where I was in charge and had to balance my time between my work schedule and getting assignments done for my classes. And over there, we were eight hours ahead. So, when we first got there it was a challenging adjustment.

Q: What was it like working with your professors at Peirce when it came to deadlines, given the time difference?
A: I communicated with my professors mainly through email and I was actually able to make almost all of my deadlines on Pennsylvania time. The only thing I needed an extension on was a test for Human Resource Management, and I just filled out a short application explaining why I needed an extension and it was granted. It was definitely an exercise in time management; breaking up the time is hard but getting my degree was something that I wanted to complete so I did it. There were a lot of late nights writing papers and taking tests and handing in response questions. It was a struggle but it was well worth it.

Q: Were there any support services that Peirce offers that you found specifically helpful as an active service member?
A: I was able to access the Walker Center online. I submitted assignments through them. They were really great with marking up my papers and getting them back to me in a timely manner.  But the biggest help from Peirce came through the Protect and Serve Grant, which helped us out a lot with both my tuition as well as my wife’s.

Q: Do you have any advice for potential students out there who might be service members and are considering going back to school, but are worried about balancing family, school, and military duties?
A: I would give them the advice to definitely seek out help from Peirce if they need it, and the trick to balancing work life and family time is just to simply find the extra time -- even if that means staying up late at night to get your work done. I know that sometimes, you will have to get up early the next morning for work, but just do it -- look at it as delayed gratification. It is worth it!
Anthony’s future plans include joining his wife in continuing their education at Peirce in the Organizational Leadership and Management program, as well as serving our country in the National Guard.

Thank you for your service, Anthony, and for sharing more of your story with us!