BU News

Online military student wins scholarship, credits adviser

December 19, 2014

Tech Sgt. James Schols

When Tech. Sgt. James Schols learned he would be getting the 2014 Military Scholarship from Career Step, the first person he knew he had to thank was his wife. The second person was his academic adviser at Brandman University.

“My counselor Carmen (Gonzalez) is awesome,” said Schols, an operations intelligence journeyman in the Oregon Air National Guard. Gonzalez steered Schols to a list of scholarship links on the Brandman website, wrote letters of recommendation and encouraged Schols to pursue his dream of getting a master’s degree from Brandman after he graduates this spring with a bachelor’s in legal studies.

Career Step, an online provider of career-focused education and career training, established its military scholarship as a way to support education on a broader level and further give back to the military community. They’ll provide $2,000 toward his pursuit of an MBA.

In the essay Schols wrote while applying for the scholarship, he told how Career Step had helped his wife complete her goal of working from home through the medical transcription program, which she enrolled in while he was deployed in Afghanistan and she was home with two young sons and a newborn. Her success also inspired him to return to school.

Schols first started working on a bachelor’s degree nearly 20 years ago after a tour in the Navy. But he took a detour to be an electrician, then joined the Air National Guard as a reservist, went on active duty and eventually switched to full time. He described his current role with the guard as “computer geek.”

When Schols started talking to his wife about advancing beyond his bachelor’s degree,  a look at their finances left him feeling hopeless and then angry. That’s when encouragement from Gonzalez and the thought of scholarships really made a difference.

“I walk through doors that open,” said Schols, explaining both his willingness to pursue both scholarships and an education.

“As an active member of the military, James is not unfamiliar with hard work and has demonstrated a significant amount of perseverance and an aptitude for higher education through his dedication to his college work and his continued academic excellence,” said Gonzalez.

“Now that James is focusing on earning his MBA with an emphasis in organizational leadership with Brandman, I am 100 percent certain that he will be successful in completing his graduate degree and then translating his education into career success,” she said.  “To be a father, a husband, working in active duty and a student is a tremendous amount of work for anyone, and James is a wonderful example of the success and perseverance that we expect from our Brandman graduates.“

Schols discovered Brandman thanks to the Air Force website and found it fit his needs: regional accreditation, a good reputation and the ability to take classes online.  “I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a diploma mill,” said Schols, admitting it was originally a random decision. When he started to think about continuing with a master’s, Brandman’s fully online component made it a logical choice

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