David Turkington, 34, calls himself a “lifelong learner.” After five years of active duty in the U.S. Marines, he moved from his native Oregon to Marion, Indiana. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from Indiana Wesleyan University and now is enrolled in IWU’s 25-month online Virtual MBA program. In the program, students earn their MBA by becoming “trainees” in a virtual-reality company that’s based on an actual business.
On his higher-education path: “I started at a community college in Oregon and did two semesters there, and then I tried a small Bible school in Iowa, but couldn’t afford the tuition. I was looking at ways to earn money, so the military was suggested. I took some distance-learning courses when I was in the Marine Corps. I had a brother-in-law who attended [IWU] and I had come out to visit him, toured the campus and really liked it. I was looking at becoming a minister. I heard about their adult program and settled on that. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Aug. 2011. I started my master’s in divinity first … and then reconsidered my trajectory. I changed it to an MBA online. Then I heard about IWU’s Virtual Learning MBA program. It’s been [a] really fun [way] to learn.”
On going back to school as an adult: “I wanted to learn, first and foremost. I had some life under my belt, some experiences, good and bad, that contributed to my learning experience.
I wanted to have something that I could use right away. I was working in a business setting—sales and marketing—when I started the business management degree. It was great to be going to school with other people in business.”
On financing his education: “The G.I. Bill was so helpful. It paid my tuition, gave me a $1,000 book stipend per year, and also paid me a housing allowance of $800 a month, based on my school’s zip code. I’m still using the G.I. Bill. I haven’t taken out any student loans.”
Goals: “I’m planning on staying in law enforcement. I don’t necessarily need a graduate program for the position. I love to learn. I want to become better. I hope to learn Spanish after this.”
Turkington says three things are key when juggling studying, working and raising a family: time management, a supportive family, and keeping the end goal in mind. “My wife has been a huge supporter.” He also says having “a good support system with classmates” is important.