American Public University System Graduates: What Their Education Means to Them

The APUS class of 2017 is a diverse group of nearly 11,000 men and women, with roughly 20% earning associates degrees, 50% bachelor’s degrees and 30% masters degrees. Of this total, approximately 80% are American Military University graduates and 20% American Public University graduates representing 24 countries worldwide. About one-third of our total graduates earn their degree with honors. Overall, they are amazing women and men dedicated to service, to advancing their lives and their careers, and to learning.

Prior to our recent commencement, we invited students to send us their stories, some of which I shared during my commencement speeches. Many of these individuals recognized their stories and stood up amidst those assembled shouting, “that’s me!” to great applause. The stories of one individual are symbolic and meaningful and reflect the stories of all individuals and reveal the true character of our AMU and APU students, such as those which follow.

Our graduates support one another as comrades and partners

During our commencement, we invited students to walk the stage with a GoPro camera to provide our virtual students at a distance the same vicarious experience. The two virtual attendees were a husband and wife who supported each other in their studies for their undergraduate and graduate degrees. How cool is that!

Our graduates overcome adversity and achieve great outcomes that transform their lives

  • Consider bachelor’s graduate Bryan, who shared on our graduation app, “After struggling in a family of 18 kids with little food on the table, one school uniform for the entire year or less, and a muddy house with no electricity or running water, I came to America and graduated with a degree in homeland security!”
  • Or Shelly, who wrote, “in October 2015, I almost died. I had two things hovering over me. . . getting well and doing my homework. I could have told my professors that I needed to withdraw. But a voice in my head said loudly, It doesn’t rain in the army! It rains on the Army! So, I took my bucket in my office and started doing my classes. I felt better interacting with my classmates and my teachers! It drove me to not only want to get my work done but took all the fear out of me to get healthier. So, here I am graduating today with my classmates. APU came into my life at the right time and the right place and it has driven me on to this graduation stage!”

Our graduates advance their careers, and are recognized for their accomplishments

  • In earning her MA in management, Latasha said, “I have gone from sitting at the front desk to sitting in board meetings with the CEO and CFO and discussing business strategies. The biggest benefit from getting my degree is confidence. I now have the ability to go visit outside agencies and different vendors and be successful in working with them.”
  • Adetamwa, who earned an MA in intelligence studies, was the first runner-up in the 2016 APUS Three-Minute Thesis Competition. An Air Force veteran with more than 13 years’ federal government experience in intelligence analysis, and six months of service in Afghanistan, he said, “I had the experience in intelligence, and was trying to figure how I could further my knowledge of the field while raising a family. I found the challenge and next steps through my MA with AMU, furthering my intelligence research and analysis capabilities.”

Our graduates exemplify our mission, using their education to make a difference in their communities

  • Michael, who earned his MA in management, wrote, “my degree has propelled me to work with police departments across Arkansas and in other states to generate ideas to help close the gaps between communities and police departments.”
  • Al, an Army veteran, leveraged his AMU MBA to co-found Social Path Solutions in San Antonio, where he helps clients develop their social media customer service operations.
  • Sheikh earned his masters in public health, completing his practicum at the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Department of Health, where he assisted in developing a Communicable Disease Response Protocol and Training Module. His capstone project focused on evaluating capacities for outbreak response in Liberia, post-Ebola, and he has gone on to pursue his doctorate degree.

Our graduates serve our country

Robert enrolled at AMU on the recommendation of a Marine Corps career counselor and, while deployed to a combat zone, continued his classes despite facing several challenges. He said that, “school gave me an outlet when I missed my family and dreamed of being back in America. I worked hard each night to meet the goals of the courses. After a year, I realized I had truly dedicated myself to school and was successfully reaching my goal of completing my bachelor’s degree in 2017.”

Our graduates are role models for their children

JoAnna writes, “My daughter is celebrating my achievement with me. She has seen that hard work and determination can lead you to great things. Achieving my degree through APU meant setting a good example for her, being a role model and teaching her perseverance and hard work.”

Many of our students are also first-generation college graduates

Felicia, a Navy veteran who earned her associate of applied science and has already moved on to pursue her BS in Public Health with us, said, “I am the first in my family to have a degree. I am beyond ecstatic to have achieved this goal.”

Our graduates are lifelong learners and leaders in pursuit of education.

Blessing, who earned her MA in emergency management from APU at age 57, has used her degree to enroll in a doctoral program in business administration, saying, “who would have thought that I would be among the first women in my generation to be here!”

These are only a few of the stories and thoughts shared by the APUS Class of 2017. We invite all alumni and students to share their own stories about the difference their degree is making in their life and work by writing and sending a 300-500 word post (similar to a Forum post) to engage@apus.edu.

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