His decision to pursue higher education proved worthwhile. Lawson now directs the IT department for global casual dining brands and has a family side-hustle to boot.
I earned my BA from UA Grantham in 2008. A few years later, I was approaching retirement from my military career, and I wanted to make sure that I set myself up for a successful career post-military. I had to figure out a way to be competitive with those my age in my category when I jumped into the civilian workforce. I knew the only way I would reach my goals was to have a graduate degree—to set myself apart. Many of my peers who left the military with similar experience to mine went into management positions, but I was able to jump into a director position immediately because I had the education behind me.
A couple of the guys I was stationed with were attending University of Arkansas Grantham. I saw how they were able to manage their self-paced courses, and I knew UA Grantham was a great option for me.
It was also affordable because they kept the credit cost in line with the military tuition assistance cost.
Because of UA Grantham’s flexibility, I was able to continue working toward a degree no matter where I was. Sometimes I was in a combat zone, in the field during training, [or] studying in tents with muddy grounds at night—but the format enabled me to still be successful.
I even moved from California to Virginia during the last week of my final project: my capstone. It was tough to do, but I did what I could ahead of time. I was able to finish up, thanks to the flexibility the instructor had allowed me.
My first job out of the military was as the IT director for Truss, an insurance brokerage agency. I was the guy running everything for the entire brokerage company.
In 2019, I went to Dine Brands—the parent company for Applebee's and IHOP—where I am the information technology director for the entire company. I am responsible for servicing any Applebee's or IHOP across the globe, as well as internal IT ticketing and incident response, problem management, change management, and IT implementation services for new restaurants.
My education has been very practical. Many courses in the MBA program taught techniques to really identify and tackle the true root cause of issues that come up. I learned to do SWOT analysis of events, and how to apply that to real world experiences. The thought processes and methodologies I learned from my MBA program inform many decisions I make now.
With the business skills and acumen I learned through UA Grantham, I’ve opened a small family woodworking business: Martlet Mercantile. This stemmed from my military career; I was always the guy that made going away thank you plaques wherever I was stationed. We turned that into a small home décor [and] wooden gifts business for my family.
First, be diligent. A lot of times the work is self-paced, but you have to take it seriously. Do your work ahead of time. Don't procrastinate. Get ahead of it. That makes it easier in the long run.
Also, don't think you have to do everything all at once. You can break up your courses, take them piece by piece and be successful with it. Don't overdo your course load. Take into account your current job and homework, so that you can still enjoy your personal life. Do what's within your capability, and then push yourself a little bit to go beyond that.
And remember if you stay diligent and devote the time—you will be successful.
There is no guarantee, express or implied, that a college degree or certificate from University of Arkansas Grantham will improve employment prospects, earnings, earnings potential, or career advancement opportunities.
Lemuel Thomas is no stranger to success. After serving in the military for three decades and retiring as a high-ranking official, Thomas transitioned into relevant IT leadership positions in the civilian sector. Along the way, he has built quite the list of accomplishments, including several higher education credentials.
Graduate Mario N. chose to pursue his communications degree from UA Grantham because he wanted a top-tier education from a university that could also accommodate his needs. Mario is grateful for the continuous feedback and support he received throughout his college journey, and for the world of opportunities his degree has opened up for him.
Graduate Jay-R Maddela-LaCambra, completed his finals early in the summer of 2021—the last box to check toward his master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from Grantham University. Far from farewell, he instead took a deep breath in preparation for his pursuance of yet another Grantham degree—this time for business.