LTJG Joshua Clark, In His Own Words
Tell us about your background and why you decided to join the military.
I was born in the mountains of North Carolina, but moved around a lot as a kid, so I consider various parts of the Carolinas home, especially anywhere there is a sandy beach. Little did I know that the constant change of scenery would help prepare me for life in the military. I joined the Coast Guard straight out of high school in order to help pay for college. I only planned to do a four-year tour, then get out and go back to school. However, I quickly developed a profound sense of pride in our service and my role in it, working every day to help those who need us the most. I am humbled to wear the uniform and proud to call myself a “Coastie.”
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What skills have you developed in the military that have been important in your educational success?
As an Electronics Technician, I have received hands-on training and real-world experience that reinforces everything I am learning in the classroom. You are often given a job to do without much instruction on how to do it, which has fostered critical thinking and problem solving techniques. I have learned to work as part of a team to accomplish something greater than any one person could do on their own. Most importantly, the military has given me the confidence to set challenging goals and the discipline to see them through.
Why did you decide to advance your education through a Bachelor’s of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology?
As I draw closer to the end of my military career, I want to make sure I am well prepared for life after the service, and able to continue providing for my family. I believe that the best way to do that is to combine that hands-on experience with a solid education.
How did you learn about ECPI University? What were the major factors in your decision to enroll?
I first learned about ECPI from one of my supervisors and mentors. I always knew that I wanted to go back to school and earn a college degree, but I needed to balance it with my family life and military obligations. ECPI has allowed me to do just that. My academic advisors worked with me to make the most of my military training and turn it into college credits. The short five-week terms made it easier to complete classes one at a time between deployments, and the online courses meant that I could take the classroom with me no matter where I went.
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What has surprised you most about pursuing an online program?
At first, I was afraid of taking online classes because I did not think I would get any face time with my professors, and would not be able to get extra help when I needed it. Luckily, the online program at ECPI has changed that. I have found that teachers are very accessible with online video conferencing and Zoom sessions, and are eager to answer any of my questions. Online students also have access to a number of resources such as tutors, writing workshops, free software downloads, and interactive lab exercises that simulate a real classroom environment right in the comfort of my own home.
What advice would you give to military service members and veterans who are considering enrolling in an online degree program?
Do not wait, and do not underestimate yourself. The hardest part is just getting started and convincing yourself you can do it. And also, don’t worry about making mistakes. There is no such thing as failure as long as you are able to learn something from it.