On-Campus and Online Graduate William Dunbar in his Own Words
My name is William. I am 31 years old and live in the Washington D.C. metro area with my wife and two children. Currently, I am a senior software engineer for Salesforce, and I have served as a senior software engineer and DevOPS advocate for Microsoft and CACI. Most people I meet assume that I am at the pinnacle of my career, but I disagree. In the future, I hope to give back to the technical community by becoming an influential mentor and advocate for diversity, equality, collaboration, and technological innovation.
I decided to go to ECPI University after visiting the Virginia Beach campus and talking to some of the instructors. Everyone was technically capable and showed an honest drive to see people succeed. I graduated from ECPI University in 2009. After graduation, my career services advisor worked tirelessly to get me an interview, which led to a local web hosting company. After two years of working in my newly-chosen career, I decided that I wanted more education, but I also wanted to do something bold. I joined the United States Army and served on active duty for five years with a 10-month deployment to Afghanistan.
“The level of engagement, quality of instruction, and real-world applicability of the material kept me motivated to continue my education. My Master’s degree challenged me to meet higher academic standards in both writing and technical ability. It is certainly clear to me that ECPI’s graduate program prepares IT leaders for better careers.”– William Dunbar – Information Systems Master’s Graduate and Database Programming Undergraduate, Virginia Beach/Online Campus
While in the Army, I remembered how ECPI University offered online courses, and I knew they were very familiar with veteran benefits. I signed up for online classes, and I completed my Bachelor’s degree online, majoring in database programming. I loved it so much that I completed my Master’s degree in Software Engineering with ECPI Online as I transitioned out of the Army.
The online program was flexible, but it did not sacrifice quality of instruction. The material was the same, and I could regularly meet with my instructors via video conference. Taking online courses allowed me to work full-time and complete school from anywhere. The level of engagement, quality of instruction, and real-world applicability of the material kept me motivated to continue my education. My Master’s degree challenged me to meet higher academic standards in both writing and technical ability. It is certainly clear to me that ECPI’s graduate program prepares IT leaders for better careers. I took those experiences and combined them with my drive for success, and I have done well at top tech companies.
It was toward the end of my Master’s degree program that I met Dr. Gary Mansi, who was my capstone mentor and professor of a few other courses. It was he who convinced me to go for my Ph.D. His final words to me were, “congrats, you can do anything, and from what I’ve seen, you still have more work to do in education and the tech industry.” I remembered those words, and today I am in my Ph.D. dissertation phase.
While the paths people take vary significantly, I always offer the same advice. Getting a degree does not mean the school is responsible for your success. This is a partnership. The degree is the key in your hands, the school is the guide that shows you the door for opportunity, and it is you who must use the key to unlock the door and walk through. In short, your drive to succeed will ensure your success. Continue to learn through experience, community work, and expect failures along the way. Most importantly, it is always okay to ask for help.