Veteran couple turn to education for next career launch
Take two full careers in the U.S. Army, a stint in the National Guard, a return to the Army, 22 years of marriage, three children raised to adults, and add in a return to college for university degrees. It’s a recipe Terry Bradshaw and Cheryl Montgomery are using to successfully advance their post-military careers before they finally retire. “The good thing about school is that I went later in life,” said Bradshaw. “Once you get started with classes, you start putting goals together and I think to myself, ‘I can go for this, I can go for that.’ You start being more innovative and creative for yourself, more doors open up and you have more choices.”
Both Bradshaw and Montgomery are planning ahead. Bradshaw graduated from Brandman University at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord campus with a bachelor’s degree in Organization Leadership in June 2014. He’s already started on his master’s degree in the same major. His return to school comes after a career in the Army as a truck driver and working in human resources. He retired from the Army in 2011 as a Sergeant First Class. Why not just stay retired? Bradshaw says there’s more to do with his life. “I’m 58 years old, and I’m pondering my next step and looking at my options,” he said.
Bradshaw’s wife, Cheryl, isn’t going to be left behind. She retired from the Army in 2005 after working in personnel. Currently, she’s in administration at Gray Army Airfield at JBLM. “I’m working towards my bachelor’s in Organizational Leadership at Brandman,” said Montgomery. “Once I get my BA, my plan is to get a master’s in Human Resources and pursue a job in that field.”
You might imagine that taking a full course load and working a full-time job is challenging enough when one half of a couple returns to school. Having both Bradshaw and Montgomery in classes at the same time means a busy schedule, but they say “it’s working out well” and they can help each other. And then they decided to take on one more big challenge. They chose to move to a new house right in the middle of the school term. “It’s crazy,” said Bradshaw. “Crazy is right,” Montgomery agrees. “Juggling work, classes, buying a house, painting and moving all at the same time with the final week of classes.” “I don’t know how we did it,” chimes in Bradshaw. “But we did.”
One thing the couple notes is Brandman’s blended courses, both online and in person, that has helped them manage their course load and work schedules. Montgomery credits the Brandman staff at JBLM with keeping her on track and motivated. “The staff will actually call and check with me and ask if I need any help,” said Montgomery. “They see how I’m doing and whether I need tutoring. A lot of schools don’t that, and the campus director, Mary Ann (Bardoni-Barbe) has been great.”
Bradshaw and Montgomery encourage their colleagues and co-workers to consider getting university degrees, especially if they can use their Post 9-11 GI Bill benefits to help fund their schooling. ”It’s a competitive world out there,” said Bradshaw. “But with my degrees, I’m going to make sure I have choices about my next career.”
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