Serving in the Marines taught Ed Herd how to be organized and how to manage time. He applied these skills and his life experience in his online classes. Ed wanted to go back to school to receive the education he needed to “help others who are often unable to think rationally or experience barriers when trying to return to normalcy.”

After graduating from Florida Tech with a BA in Applied Psychology with honors in Fall 2015, Ed was accepted to the University of South Dakota’s School of Health Sciences for Addiction Studies with a specialization in co-occurring disorders. He says that “without the great experience I had at FIT, I would have never thought to take my education any further.” Let’s hear more about his experience.

Student and Veteran

Q. Tell us a little bit about your background.

I am a married 31-year-old father of three. I graduated from St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, NJ, which is a preparatory academy established by The Brothers of the Sacred Heart. After graduation, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps because 9/11 hit very close to home, both in relationships and actual geographic proximity. I served in the U.S. Marines from 2002-2006. My first duty assignment was as an infantryman assigned to 6th Marines. Then a year before my discharge, I was assigned duty with the 2nd Marine Division Inspector General’s Office. Upon finishing my service, I returned home to New Jersey and worked primarily in security/law enforcement. I moved to Pennsylvania in 2007, where a few years later I met my wife.

Q. How have military benefits such as the GI Bill impacted your education and your professional and personal life?

The GI Bill® was the best investment I have ever made. I contributed $1,200.00 towards it and received far beyond my initial investment towards my education. I also used FAFSA loans throughout my education, but the GI Bill helped me afford whatever I needed to succeed, including a new computer.

Q. What advice would you give to military servicemembers and veterans who are considering enrolling in an online degree program?

Get into school before it becomes too late to use your benefits! My GI Bill expired in my second to last term. Luckily I was automatically covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill thereafter, but there is a time limit on being eligible.

Q. What do you believe are the most important factors in making the transition from military duty to civilian life?

Honestly, the most important aspect is to understand that the occupational skills you learn in the military are not always transferable into the civilian job market. I was an infantryman by trade. In a situation requiring the use of weapons and tactical maneuvers, I am great, but how do these skills help you as a civilian? Unless you intend on staying within law enforcement, there are not many careers out there that utilize this skillset. Even if there are, within government agencies, they often still require advanced education. I knew I needed more education, so I enrolled in Florida Tech Online.

Florida Tech Pride

Q. What were the most important factors in your decision to choose Florida Tech?

My brother attended Florida Tech on campus, and I often visited with my mother in my teen years. The campus was beautiful, and I always said to myself, “I want to go here.” When interested in returning to college, I looked to see if FIT offered an online program in psychology. When I saw that they not only offered an applied psychology program, but also a forensic psychology concentration, the choice was simple to make. I enrolled immediately.

Q. How will your Florida Tech degree make a difference in your career?

Florida Tech is a very reputable school with employers. You show up to an interview with an FIT degree, you’re already a step ahead. I spoke with Boston University, Northwestern University, Penn State and the University of South Dakota, each commended me on choosing FIT and explained that other online programs are not as successful in achieving acceptance into their graduate programs. FIT has a well-planned curriculum that meets many requirements for graduate study.

The Online Experience

Q. What surprised you most about taking an online program?

The ease of learning via the internet was the most surprising. I have always been a self-starter, so maybe it was easier for me than others, but nothing seemed to be extremely difficult. The professors I experienced at FIT have always been there for whatever I needed.

Q. What was your favorite class and why?

There were many that I considered my favorite. Substance abuse, forensic clinical psychology, physiological psychology, victimology and serial killers are my top five. The amount of insight these classes gave me in relation to human behavior was phenomenal. One of the things I loved is that the professors are in the field. Dr. Alina Perez, whom I learned four different courses from, works in the forensic field and was a wealth of knowledge in regards to actual practices. You can only learn so much from a textbook; it was the personal experiences and the feedback that she gave that made such a difference in my learning experience.

Q. What were the most important factors in successfully balancing your college coursework with your family life?

Balancing work, family and school was a challenge. Luckily, my wife would be sure to allow me quiet time for tests and writing papers by managing three kids for hours with no help. Sometimes it would be hard finding time between two jobs and family matters, but I got it done. If there was ever an instance that I needed more time on an assignment, I was never turned down by a professor.

Q. What was your most valuable takeaway from the program?

My most valuable takeaway, aside from the actual education, is that I am now confident in my abilities as an adult learner. I am attending graduate school in January, but without the great experience I had at FIT, I would have never thought to take my education any further. 

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.

Are you a graduate of Florida Tech’s 100% online degree programs? We would love to share your success story in our Student Spotlight series. Contact us at StudentSpotlight@universityalliance.com for additional details.

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