Students

Life-long learner is #BrandmanProud

September 20, 2016 by Cindy O'Dell
Bill Kieffer

When he’s not being a Brandman student or volunteering as a deacon with St. Michael’s Parish, Bill Kieffer can be found on the golf course.

Bill Kieffer is not your ordinary university student. He’s not even ordinary for Brandman where most students are nontraditional.

For starters, he already had a master’s degree in social work and a Ph.D. before he joined the Air Force at age 35.

“I saw the opportunity that the Air Force had for clinical social work. I joined the reserves to get a feel for it and I loved it. I loved that I could work in my profession, serve my country and then, thirdly, see the world. What an opportunity!” said Kieffer.

It didn’t occur to him while he was serving or after retiring at age 57 that he still qualified for education benefits. But when he did find out, the self-described life-long learner decided to head back to school, attending classes at Brandman’s Travis Air Force Base site.

“I can use it or lose it. I started to use it,” he said, first enrolling in a few criminal justice courses and then history. He’s currently working toward a second bachelor’s degree in applied studies.

Despite not taking classes to enhance employment, Kieffer still puts what he learns to use as a permanent deacon at St. Michael’s Catholic Parish at Travis. He helps with pastoral support and patient visits at the David Grand Medical Center and also helps with the celebration of Mass. In those roles, he sometimes works with families who are dealing with criminal justice or gang issues. His classes have helped him gain perspective.

But mostly he just enjoys his classes for what he’s learning. “Adult education really has benefits. You’re more established and mature. My classmates have life experience and they bring all that to the plate and that really enhances knowledge and education.”

Kieffer is also eager to share his Brandman experiences wherever he can, including by sporting his Brandman hat every time he plays golf.

“Education at Brandman is a treasure waiting for people to take partake of. There’s nothing more effective than getting an education in a field you’re interested in and passionate about,” he said, adding that he’s found advice from site director Sandy Handel particularly helpful. “She’s very student oriented and a very positive link for Brandman students. It makes going to school a little easier when you have a user-friendly advisor.”

Handel is equally enthused about Kieffer’s life-long learner attitude and willingness to promote the university, even on the golf course.

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