By W. Alan Wile, Acquisition and Contract Management M.S. ‘14
I feel like I need to start off by saying that I heard about Florida Institute of Technology from a very good friend who is a Florida Tech MBA graduate and a retired Navy helicopter pilot who now flies a rescue helicopter for a local hospital. He’s quite a guy! He told me about what a great experience he had and how much his degree had helped him in his career. He encouraged me to give Florida Tech a look and I am very glad I listened to him.
Currently, I’m close to finishing an M.S. in acquisition and contract management. I chose this degree because it directly relates to my job as a contract specialist with the Department of the Navy at Naval Station, Norfolk, VA. I will continue my studies at Florida Tech and complete an MBA as well. The outstanding Florida Tech staff at the Hampton Roads site in Fort Eustis, VA, showed me that when I complete the acquisition and contract management master’s program, which includes business management curriculum, I will have fulfilled the requirements for the MBA electives and only need to take a few more of the core classes to complete an MBA. It only made sense to me to take six more classes to complete an MBA.
I decided to pursue my master’s degree for a few reasons. First, my son had been having issues at school for a while. I thought that if I “walked the walk with him” instead of “talking the talk at him,” then he would see that education is not “a drag,” that it is very important and that putting forth maximum effort has rewards. Thankfully, this approach is working and he is taking school more seriously. Second, I decided to pursue a master’s degree because I had set a goal for myself to complete a post-graduate degree and the time was right to act on that goal (see “First” above). Luckily for me, the opportunity to earn two Florida Tech master’s degrees came along at the same time. Third, to put it kindly, there were some people in my past that were less than optimistic about my educational potential. Their doubt, while hurtful at the time, seems to have given me a drive that has proven to be most beneficial.
In retrospect, I’m now grateful to them. Last, I see myself teaching at the college level in the near future, so making the necessary preparations seemed prudent.
Remaining committed to earning these master’s degrees at Florida Tech is easy, first, because of the staff. The staff here at the Hampton Roads site in Fort Eustis, VA is comprised of Dr. Denise Siegfeldt, Director; Ms. Patrecia Gary, Senior Resident Administrator; and Ms. Kathy Hart Thornton, Administrative Secretary and they are, in my view, quite simply the BEST! They are 100% professional, knowledgeable and courteous. They are responsive and always willing to help with any concern. Second, and equally important, is the faculty. In my view, the faculty is second to none in terms of subject knowledge and expert teaching skill. Each professor I’ve worked with has been accessible, approachable and very giving of their time. For example, I have called some of these folks and had questions answered at 7 p.m. on Sunday nights with no problem. Last, I remain committed because what was once so far away is now within reach. You have to follow through.
If I could offer some advice to other professionals considering pursing their master’s degrees, whatever your field or level of study, GO AFTER IT WITH EVERYTHING YOU HAVE! For you undecided undergraduate students, don’t sweat it if you haven’t singled out a major yet. Take care of the basics in the meantime. You’ll figure out your passion soon enough. I was there once too. As I said above, the goals that were once so far away are now within reach for me and it will happen for you, too. Ironically, one day you will wonder how the time went by so quickly once you see that light and come out on the other end. I have learned that patience and kindness with those around you, diligence in your work and persistence in the face of adversity will combine to earn respect and enhance your chances of success.
To sum it up: study hard, work hard and then play hard. You have to have fun too!
My experience at Florida Tech has helped me to realize a lifelong love of learning that wasn’t there before. I went after my bachelor’s degree more or less to enhance my chances of promotion when I was in the Navy and to prepare for post-Navy employment. My time at Florida Tech, while still ongoing, has taken education to a higher plane and I have a much deeper level of appreciation for it.
Once I complete my master’s degrees, I look forward to putting my feet up and taking a short breather for about 20 minutes, then get back to working when I have to and play when I can. I’m looking forward to teaching as well.