A grueling day in the life of University of Arkansas Grantham graduate George Fleming during the global pandemic meant quietly getting up and leaving for work at 2 a.m., driving his regular 1.5-hour commute to work, hitting the gym, and diligently focusing on his coursework – all before his eight-to-ten-hour workday even started.
“It was important to me to not let my responsibilities take away any time with my wife and kids, so I just started doing what I had to do to make it all work,” said the 46-year-old father of two teenagers. “I think it was good for my kids to see that you have to work hard and take some risks to accomplish things.”
Before the grueling grind paid off in January when Fleming earned his computer science associate degree online from UA Grantham, a conversation he once had with his stepfather always gnawed at him.
“We had several talks about college over the years and I know it was a path he thought would serve me well in my life and career,” said Fleming, a Pawleys Island, S.C. native. “I really wish he was around now to see that I had accomplished this and that I’m still working toward more.”
And while his routine has become a little easier these days, Fleming continues working toward a online bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity at UA Grantham, which is a custom fit to his newer line of work—having moved from help desk-type problem solving to a cybersecurity role at the healthcare system where he works in Charleston, S.C.
“It’s really worked out for me in that I was able to talk with my employer about my career and goals and here I am doing cybersecurity work while earning a bachelor’s degree in that field,” the 46-year-old Fleming said. “I probably wasn’t ready for college at the typical age, but I knew it was something that I always felt like I should do. It feels like I discovered UA Grantham at the right time in my life and I would recommend anyone to give it a try and rediscover the student in them. Personally, I was never a strong student back in the day, but it’s amazing how focused and dedicated I’ve become in tackling this part of my life.”
Even when he’s taking a little time out from family trips to stay on top of his schoolwork, as he recently did on a family vacation in Maine, the end goal he and his wife planned inches closer as the days go by and the college credits accumulate.
“My wife and I have mapped out our career and school goals, and ultimately once the kids are off to college and that chapter of life begins, we’d like to be able to work while we travel and see everything we’ve always wanted to see,” Fleming said. “Thanks to finding UA Grantham and having the support of my employer and my family, that goal is within reach.”
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Brandon Swenson, communications manager, is on University of Arkansas Grantham’s editorial board. A veteran and college graduate himself, he understands the benefits and intricacies of government education programs, such as veteran education benefits. Brandon earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City toward the end of his nearly two-decade tour in the United States Marine Corps.