At the onset of the pandemic, Air Force veteran Joseph Ensley had a life in transit.
He and his wife often moved, sometimes around the globe, while he was enlisted. But the global impact of COVID-19 caused Joseph to reevaluate his life — and he bravely decided to pursue his online bachelor’s and master’s in accounting.
Job security and growth were at the forefront of my considerations. I needed a career and education that I could do anywhere, anytime, and possibly, remotely.
He was still undecided on where to get his degree, though.
“I narrowed it down to Maryville and my backup choice — and ultimately, Maryville’s Early Access program is what sold me,” he says.
Through Early Access, Joseph got a head start on earning his Maryville Online master’s in accounting by taking graduate-level courses as an undergraduate. It broadened his goal of earning a singular degree to two, which motivated him — and would inspire his younger sister.
As a first-generation student, Joseph and his sister had no role models for pursuing higher education. They endured a challenging childhood, which included narrowly escaping the foster care system, but they always had each other and have remained close into adulthood.
“I know my little sister looks up to me even today,” he says, “and I am so happy to be a role model for her as she continues in her journey. She knows what is possible, because I have done it and will be there for her, too.”
There were three reasons I chose Maryville: Veteran friendliness, the Early Access program, and the ease of transferring all of my credits in from multiple sources — which meant I could support my family, faster.
Seventeen options — one Maryville
As a Military Friendly® School, Maryville accepts military funding like the Post-9/11 GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon program, meaning Joseph did not have to worry about out-of-pocket costs. He was also able to utilize his preexisting CLEP, AP course, and military credits.
There was also the added flexibility — which fit Joseph’s mobile lifestyle.
“My schedule and instructors have been flexible in a way that I don’t think on-campus learning would have been,” says Joseph, who transitioned into working full-time at an accounting firm during his entire Maryville journey.
But when a move from Florida to California suddenly uprooted him, Joseph learned that his company didn’t have an office in his new state. So he started his own firm.
“I made my own business called The King’s Accountant,” says Joseph, who got the idea during the funding project final for his advanced managerial accounting course. “With my instructor’s permission, I developed the project I was creating and opened my business.”
Before Joseph knew it, he’d already developed a business plan and forecasted a first-year budget anchored by SMART goals.
Award-worthy support along the way
Joseph is thankful for the opportunities that have been available to him and is grateful to those Maryville faculty members who made a marked difference in his online experience. His student advisor Nicole Gutzmer was a standout — so much so that he nominated her for a faculty award.
“I never would have made it through my educational journey without Nicole,” he says. “My journey has included some roadblocks to overcome, and, at times, I debated about continuing my journey. From getting enrolled and ensuring my GI Bill funding was secure, to moving across the country from Florida to California, to failing my very first Early Access master’s course, Nicole has been there through it all to support, uplift, and encourage me to continue to ‘be brave.’”
“We’re over the hill, but there are still ‘miles to go before I sleep’ ”
Joseph plans to graduate in May with his bachelor’s, and again in December with his master’s. Afterward, he’d like to pursue forensic accounting to uncover potential fraud or deception.
“I am also planning on taking the CPA exam,” he says, “so I’m also preparing to keep the study train going. We’re over the hill, but still ‘miles to go before I sleep.’”
He stressed the value of being a lifelong learner to get ahead in life and a career. According to Joseph, the future is “ever-changing,” and those who fail to adapt or take advantage of their opportunities are at risk of being left behind. Joseph strongly believes that everything you learn is a tool to be used, and, combined with a strong work ethic and willpower, anything can be accomplished.
“The military taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to, that it is possible, and that having a lifelong learning approach can only benefit you in the long run,” he says. “Also, be brave. You can do it. The hardest part is the first step. But keep going. Before you know it, you’ll be at a milestone, and it gets much easier from there.”
Like Joseph, you can be brave, too. Learn how Maryville Online can help you pursue your educational and professional goals.
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