My name is Jeff Wilson and I am currently a student in the Masters of Sports Medicine and Strength and Conditioning program here at UCCS. In 2011, I received my Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Saginaw Valley State University located in Michigan in which I ran cross country and track for 5 years. Throughout my time there I realized that I wanted to take my passion for distance running and pursue a career that involves that focus day to day and helps others achieve their goals.
Once I found the Strength and Conditioning program here at UCCS and saw the success of the cross country teams as well, I knew the pursuit of my career aspirations would start in Colorado Springs. I currently work with the male cross country team and am a graduate assistant coach for the track team.
My main goals are to help not only athletes but people of the general public to live healthier and more efficient lifestyles. Within my program of study the focus is on real world application and when coupled with my experiences with the athletes I assist, I know that my time spent here will prepare me for a successful and exhilarating future.
Joe Lewis (MPA candidate, School of Public Affairs) served in the military for 25 years from Private to Lieutenant Colonel with 25 combined years as an enlisted Army cannon crewman in a field artillery unit, a Marine Corps fighter pilot flying F/A-18 Hornets, as a flight instructor, and as a transport pilot, and as an Air Force reconnaissance pilot flying the RC-26. Joe supported local, state, and federal law enforcement including the FBI, DEA, and U.S. Secret Service and served at the National Guard Bureau in Washington DC as the Counterdrug Aviation Section Chief, Chief of Domestic Operations, and Chief of Federal Operations Programs. He retired as a Lt Col from the Air Force in 2011 after completing his final tour at the United States Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations Center.
After retirement, Joe founded a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Angels of America’s Fallen, to serve the children of our fallen military, coast guard, and first responders. Having lost friends in each service, and knowing the ages of their children, he recognized a crucial gap in the support being provided to these children who had just lost one of their biggest mentors. With the mentoring of his own sons being his biggest concern if he should not return from one of his missions, he felt the need to reach out and help provide mentoring and developmental opportunities that matched each child’s individual interests and needs. He developed Angels of America’s Fallen as a way to proactively engage the children of our fallen in healthy activities under the guidance of a coach or instructor where they could excel and develop their very own strong sense of self worth.
Joe earned a B.S. in Physical Science with dual minors in Business and Criminal Justice from Troy University. He resides in Colorado Springs with his wife of over 22 years and two sons. He is the founder and president of Angels of America’s Fallen. He volunteers at New Life Church where he serves with Military Ministry Programs. Joe is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a member of the American Legion, and a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
“Having retired from the military after serving in the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force, and as a pilot for American Airlines, I have been through many different classes and courses. I have been very satisfied and impressed with quality of the courses I have experienced at UCCS. With running a nonprofit organization being very different from my previous military experience, I was looking for a mix of academic background and real world lessons, and that is exactly what I have found in the Masters of Public Administration and Nonprofit Management Certificate courses. The professors and lecturers have provided much more insight and information outside of the books than I expected. With a very broad cross section of students from younger people just through with their undergraduate degree to older students with over 25 years of varied work experience since their previous college years, class participation is fostered. The value of the insight and input from other students has been particularly valuable.
I have been able to practically apply information from the courses to the development and success of Angels of America’s Fallen. Specific lessons learned in the Diversity in Fundraising course resulted in better systems for donor development and tracking, and increases in grants from foundations. Networking with other students in the Graduate Student Association has resulted in additional grants and fundraisers that directly enabled support of more children of our fallen.
To anyone considering a graduate program from UCCS, I would say get started now. You’ll be very glad you did. “
Samantha Bruner is pursuing her Master of Business Administration degree from the College of Business. She is expected to graduate spring 2015.
What advantages do you see in pursuing an MBA?
Besides my drive to continually learn and grow, I see pursuing an MBA as a significant step toward developing myself as a competent, skilled, and confident professional. Per the recommendation of my mentor, I waited six years between receiving my undergraduate degree and pursuing my graduate degree. Because of this, I entered the classroom with several years of professional experience to include having started my own business. Though I am only half-way through the program, I have improved my business, my work, and myself in ways that I believe will have a lasting impact.
How has being an entrepreneur given you a unique perspective as a student?
I started my business, Colorado Springs Food Tours, nearly four years ago. Owning a business and managing employees is very challenging, particularly in the unstable and unpredictable economy we currently find ourselves. Because of this, I would say that one of the most valuable things I’ve learned is how to problem solve, adapt, and make decisions within a short amount of time. Like many people, I do not have an excess of time, so when it comes to balancing work, homework, class, and life, I have to be quick on my feet, ready to react, and change in the ways needed in order to perform well. Also, I would say that working with people, finding out their strengths and what they want, is key to any successful relationship, whether it’s with a friend, significant other, professor, or fellow student.
What is your personal leadership philosophy?
I recently took MGMT 6000 with Professor Warrick, and during that class, I developed the following leadership philosophy which now guides my decisions and interactions with others:
- Prioritize people,
- Cast vision,
- Utilize technology,
- Commit to excellence,
- Do what’s right, and
- Be humble.
PhD Candidate Selected as a Fellow by the National Center for Education Statistics and National Science Foundation
Grant Clayton is completing coursework in the Educational Leadership, Research, and Policy Ph.D. program this summer. His research focuses on high school to college transitions and issues in higher education. Grant was recently selected as Fellow for the 2013 National Data Institute on datasets of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and National Science Foundation (NSF). Additionally he was a recipient of the Graduate School travel award to attend the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual conference. At AERA he presented in the Graduate Student and co-presented in the Postsecondary Education Divisions.
My name is Nancy Hoist and I am currently a student in the Master of Public Administration program. I received my Bachelor’s degree from UCCS in History and although I loved the subject, I found that my true passion lies in public service. I spent several months in 2011 commuting to and from Denver in order to be a Special Events and Fundraising Intern for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I was amazed at the teamwork, collaboration and dedication the staff showed to their mission and fundraising events. After I completed my internship, I decided that enrolling in the Public Administration program would aid me in becoming a mission driven public servant.
I am also an Administrative Assistant to the Dean in the College of Engineering, and this position allows me to take what I am learning in the classroom and apply those concepts them to real world problems. I work with a variety of departments on campus for various reasons, whether it is securing housing for international students or networking with companies for internship opportunities for students. I have had to collaborate, lead, follow, and become mission focused for the students and our department. Although I am excited to finish the Public Administration program soon, I know there is so much more for me to learn for my future.
Nicolas Hostetter is a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Student Activities and was chosen from a list of nominees from a variety of departments across campus. Nicolas is a first-year graduate student and is pursuing his Master of Arts in Leadership: Student Affairs in Higher Education. “Once I finish my master’s degree I really hope to continue working in Student Life in some capacity” said Nicolas. “I’m very passionate about student development and leadership, and I think that is why I have been so successful in my current position. I love working with student leaders and being a part of this fast growing campus”. Nicolas has a BA in Business Marketing and is from Alamosa, Colorado.
The choice to attend graduate school depends on many factors. We decided to ask a few of our master’s and doctoral candidates how they made such an important decision, and to see what it is about their program that keeps them dedicated to their studies here at UCCS.
Majid “MJ” Arjomandi is a third-year graduate student in the Master’s in Communication program at UCCS, which is offered through the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences.
Why are you pursuing a master’s degree at this time?
I was looking for a way to better myself, and to stand out above the rest of the crowd, so I thought the best way to do that would be to continue my education and pursue a master’s degree.
Why did you choose UCCS?
I chose UCCS because I think it is a very good institution and it’s continuously growing. I get the feel of a smaller school, where I get the one-on-one interaction with the professors. I will be proud to say I am a graduate of the larger CU system, but was able to benefit from a smaller campus.
Are you gaining any real world experience in your program?
The program has afforded me the opportunity to be a graduate assistant with the Athletic Department here on campus, where I am doing play-by-play commentary and announcing for all the university sporting events, which is really what I’d like to go into in my future. I’m also an instructor for a Public Speaking course on campus and likewise, if not for the program, I would have never had the opportunity to be a teacher in a real classroom and be able to have that experience moving forward outside of my degree.
Bailee Bannon is a first year graduate student in the Student Affairs in Higher Education program at UCCS, which is offered through the College of Education.
Why are you pursuing a master’s degree?
I have been working in higher education for a couple of years in various administrative positions and I really want to continue working in higher education. I believe that by getting my master’s degree I’ll be able to eventually become a director or dean.
Why did you choose UCCS?
I chose UCCS mainly for the Saturday in-class programs. I did not want to take an online program because I like the in-class face-to-face interactions and I think that’s really important when you want to continue working in higher education because you are working with people on a personal level.
What do you think is unique about your program?
I really like the SAHE program here because of it’s diversity. Everyone in my cohort is working at least as a graduate assistant or full time at another college or university, so it’s great to be able to find out how their work lives are different from mine and it’s also giving me a networking opportunity that will hopefully help me in my career path.
Chad Mello is a PhD student in Engineering: Computer Science in the College of Engineering & Applied Science
Why are you pursuing a PhD?
Initially, I was going to pursue a master’s degree and apply that toward my business, but after speaking with the Engineering faculty at UCCS, it gave me a different perspective on things. It’s really about being on the leading edge of technology, and not just utilizing it, but participating in it and establishing it, so that is why I feel like the PhD route was the best choice for me.
Why did you choose UCCS to conduct your research?
I believe when a person is deciding on what institution to commit to for a graduate degree, not only should they have to look deeply inside themselves and understand what their commitment level has to be, but they also need to see how the institution is willing to commit to you. That’s what makes this particular area that I’m in at UCCS very attractive because the commitment of the faculty is second to none, and they are really helping to guide students forward in the challenges that they meet.
What is the best feature of your program?
I like the fact that we have access to medical doctors at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver to help conduct our research. Those resources have been invaluable to me. I also like the small size of the program because what you really get to do is interact on a more personal level with not only your classmates, but with the professors. The professors here are always willing to make themselves available and are as flexible as can be for the student, and for my work schedule that works out great.
Tracie Nicoll is a graduate student in the Master of Arts: Clinical Psychology program in the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences.
Why did you choose graduate school?
Graduate school is the result of a mid-life career change for me. I was previously in business, and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Northern Arizona University in 1992. In 2002, my two sons were diagnosed with a fatal genetic disorder. We lost our first born at the tender age of 3 during the treatment to halt the progression of the disease. Since then something inside of me changed and I was no longer interested in resuming a career in business. Rather, I was inspired to pursue a career in Psychology to help others who are suffering through difficult life circumstances.
Why did you choose UCCS?
Initially, I chose UCCS to complete my Master’s degree because UCCS is an excellent, APA accredited school and is located in Colorado Springs, where my family and I live. Once in the program, however, I found that I thoroughly enjoy working with older adults, which galvanized my decision to apply to the PhD program, which offers an emphasis in Geropsychology.
What are the best features of your program?
I think the best features of this program are the professors and the practicum opportunities. The professors pour their heart and soul into the students, and really take an interest in our success. Many are practicing clinicians with a great deal of clinical experience. The student-to-mentor ratio is very low, which is a great benefit because students receive one-on-one mentorship, which helps to promote personal and professional development. In addition, this program is heavily research oriented, which has enhanced my proficiency in research and statistics exponentially.
What do you like about Colorado Springs?
Colorado Springs is just a beautiful city – not too big, not too small. Located only 60 miles south of Denver, residents can enjoy the activities offered by a big city, (i.e., professional sporting events, big name concerts, theater and arts, etc.), without having to compromise their lifestyle or endure the rat race of a big city. I love the people here, the air we breathe, the beautiful landscape, the climate, and the majestic Rocky Mountains that provide unlimited outdoor fun.