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Ashford University
Defining the modern college experience.
Defining the modern college experience.
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We are officially in the final stretch. Only 16 days left until commencement.

Even if you cannot attend in person, make sure you sign up on the event page for live updates, contests, and special announcements. You can find the events here:

Commencement day: http://bit.ly/2N5s5Ct
Campus celebration: http://bit.ly/2N9siER
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In such a busy day-and-age, online learning allows students the flexibility to complete their education on their own time. In honor of #NationalOnlineLearningDay, tell us in the comments below how online learning has transformed your educational experience. (credit: Sydney Richmond)
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Although I did not attend the best school as a young child, I've always managed to achieve above and beyond. I remember being a little princess for a play, being a part of the glee club/music class, sports (running) and singing. My grades were always good.

I was born and raised in Chattanooga, TN. I am the oldest of four siblings from both parents, and the third oldest on my dad's side of the family. As the oldest, I taught my siblings what I learned in school. I remember in 5th grade there was a D.A.R.E essay contest and I won first place until a little girl cried. She was the niece the late professional football player Reggie Rice. Of course, they made us read again, and they gave 1st place to her. That would not be the last time I was disappointed and let down.

My mother held me back a grade because we had moved so many times during while she and my father separated. That separation caused me to take on a lot of “adult” responsibilities, so academically I began to slack in my studies. I could not focus socially, nor academically which resulted in low test scores, and ultimately being cut from honor roll. By the time I got to high school I did great but my 9th grade scores determined my fate. I graduated with a C average. Unfortunately, this meant I would not get any scholarships for college, and could not afford it by other means with my mother on welfare.

My attempt to attend school was stressful and hard. I endured hardship and life changes during this time in my life. When I was 19, I attempted school several times and gave up.] After my life took its tosses and turns, I started believing in GOD. HE was the driving force in my life. It took me seven years to get my life together. In March of 2009, I moved to Philadelphia, PA, got married and enrolled in a Pharmacy Technician Course.
I did not know my academic skills at that time. Eventually I realized focusing was key for me. I graduated CHI at the top of my class-- 4.0 to be exact but I wanted more. I wanted to further my education, so my husband suggested Political Science and Government because I loved serving others. After hours of researching online, I found Ashford University.

It wasn’t easy. I struggled because I was just getting situated in a new town, new marriage and new career in Pharmacy. Things were going great, and I even made the dean’s list. Sadly, after a few months I lost my Father-in-law, which meant I had to drop a class to work through the loss. It was a huge setback, and towards the end, I had to repeat a class. I persevered, pushed through and graduated with a 3.4 GPA, barely missing the Honor Roll but that was okay-- I was just glad to be finished.

I am proud to say that I graduated in 2014. Later that year, as my husband and I passed a fruit stand in which a horrific event occurred. We later returned to that stand, compelled to revisit the scene. It was there where my husband introduced me to elected official, who were also visiting the scene. This included PA State Representative for that area (181st). Our meeting was a blessing, and following that meeting I volunteered for 8 months with them. On January 7th, I was hired on as an Executive Support and Community Outreach Specialist. The rest is history, and for the next 4 and a half years I would become a community activist, a tutor, sit on many committees, board and co-chair event. I started The Elite 30 association and coalition, which is a network platform and collaborative effort. I've gotten certificates, awards, and a lot of great training. In a few years, I will be running for office. My husband has always been my greatness supporter, so much so that he is paying for my school as I write this. I love him and my step children. And while many have inspired me, it was GOD that inspired in ways I could not explain.

Thank you, Ashford for the opportunity to learn while I was adjusting to my new path in life. If it was not for your online experience, expertise, and educational value and empowerment, my B.A. would not be possible. I am all I can be, academically, because you. Thanks for a second chance.
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Ashford University’s CHAMPS program gives students a chance to be mentored by other students who are further along in their studies. For Machele Ruiz, the CHAMPS program is all about opportunities. She went from being a mentor herself to working as the CHAMPS Program Coordinator. Her experience with CHAMPS also changed her from a shy introvert into a confident leader who loves to interact with other mentors and mentees.

To learn more about CHAMPS, visit http://bit.ly/2vTT5z7.
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After high school graduation, I enlisted in the military in 2003. At that time, going to college was the last thing on my mind. I wanted to serve our country and see the world. While in the service, I deployed in 2003-2004 and again in 2008-2009. After about 8 years of service, I knew my time was up and prior to being honorably discharged, I finally realized the value of college education. The need for a college degree was even more critical for me during this period of transition in my life from military, back to civilian. It was imperative that I obtain a college degree prior to leaving the service to be competitive in the job market. That's when I finally decided to take a leap of faith and pursue my degree at Ashford.

I was nervous and intimated by "on-line learning." However, that quickly changed after my first couple of courses at Ashford! Working full-time and attending on-line college, particularly at Ashford, has its benefits and perks. In fact, the flexibility of on-line learning, and not to mention the generous transfer of military credits, had me sold. In 2010, I earned my bachelor's degree in Organizational Management from Ashford University. This marked the first major milestone in my life, as I was the first in my family to graduate from college. Ashford made this possible with the flexibility of e-learning platform. The course delivery method allowed me to complete my undergraduate degree while wrapping up my last year of enlistment in the Navy.

Fast forward some years, the education that I received from Ashford laid the foundation and paved the way for me to complete my Master's degree, and eventually to earning a Juris Doctorate degree from Trinity Law School in Santa Ana, California. This marked the next milestones in my educational goals. This was certainly not an easy task. While completing law school, I worked full-time at the Bureau of Investigation for the San Diego County District Attorney's Office. At that time, work and law school-life balance seem impossible. But again, life lessons did not stop there. As if I did not have enough on my plate - in March of 2016, I experienced a tragedy and personal loss of my mother. She fought a great battle against cancer. I was devastated and did not think that I could finish. There are many times that I thought about giving up but I knew I had to finish what I started. Before she passed, I promised her that I would finish law school. All these life experiences have taught me many lessons. One of which is the value of higher education. In May 2016, I fulfilled my promise to my mother and walked across the stage. I did it! I finally earned my law degree!

Next major chapter: The infamous California Bar Examination. Studying for the bar exam and working full-time was no easy task. In fact, I don't recommend it at all! Of course, I had no choice. However, the hard work and dedication ultimately paid off. On the third Friday, in May of 2017, at about 6:00 p.m., I nervously awaited my bar exam result. I entered my application information on the computer, closed my eyes, and prayed. It was all in God's hands. Within a second, result on my screen showed: "Your name appeared on the pass list." It did not occur to me what just happened. After a brief pause, all emotions rushed in at once and that was when I realized that I passed the bar exam! Arguably, one of the hardest attorney licensing exams in the country. I remember saying to myself, "Mom, I did it!" (and yes, I cried - all the blood, sweat, and tears paid off). That next month, I was administered the Attorney's Oath and sworn in by the Honorable Judge Kelly Mok as Attorney and Counselor at Law.

Post-swearing in ceremony, the daunting task of competing for a first-year associate job in this tough legal market is yet another battle. With God's grace, hard-work and perseverance an opportunity landed. Within a month of being licensed, I joined a wonderful group of attorneys, paralegals, and legal support staff at a Los Angeles county-based law firm of Solimon Rodgers, P.C. There, I practiced primarily workers' compensation law and represented injured workers throughout all stages of workers' compensation litigation with varying degrees of complexity. I gained invaluable experience from pre-trial, discovery, to trial work, including negotiation of combined settlements of over $1.5 million on behalf of California injured workers within my first year.
I am continuing to grow personally in my relationship with God, and professionally by advancing in the legal field. Today, I am an Associate Attorney at a major state-wide Workers' Compensation Defense law firm, Tobin Lucks, LLP. Established in 1982, Tobin Lucks, LLP (a California-based firm) is a full-service state-wide firm providing legal services to insurance and employer communities, with emphasis in workers' compensation, labor and employment counseling and litigation, and related areas of civil litigation.

I would not be where I am today without God's grace - thank you, God. Also, a huge dedication to my late mother, family, and friends who sacrificed so much for me. Finally, the solid foundation and the inspiration from the Ashford community from day one! Thank you, Ashford!

This is #MyAshfordU

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How do you grow a following when you don’t have one? Start your thought leadership quest here: http://bit.ly/2vnVNg9
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Subject-specific advisory boards are becoming more common at Ashford University, such as the Organizational Management Advisory Board. This proactive approach aims to make graduates better prepared for global business challenges. http://bit.ly/2nbTatk
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Former NBA player and veteran Harlem Globetrotter Kevin “Special K” Daley has a lot of tricks up his sleeve but earning a degree from Ashford University was the real game-changer. Here’s why. http://bit.ly/2KiDFJ2
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The education at Ashford may be virtual, but the student–professor relationships are very real. Just ask Human Resources Management student Becky Kreuger. Last month at the Society for Human Resource Management conference in Chicago, she got to meet Ashford Core Faculty – Assistant Professor Bill Davis, who she says has had a profound impact on her, particularly through his instruction on research and writing.
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Our Alumni of the month went from Ashford University parent, to graduate, and now an employee at AU but Machele Ruiz's journey hasn't been an easy one. Read her inspiring story of personal loss, perseverance and self-discovery here: http://bit.ly/2mVC9n5
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