NACTEL Student Stories

With six kids at home, working full time, and leading his crew in overtime every year, Thomas knew going back to school was going to be difficult, but he was determined to get his college degree.  “Out of high school, I had no money or will power to go on to college, but at 30, I got the ‘bug’ to go back to school and wanted to achieve my personal goal of finally getting the degree I thought I would never have.”

After starting his college education at a local community college, Thomas received a company e-mail from AT&T that presented the NACTEL online program through Pace University.  “When I started with Pace, they offered the Associate’s degree, and AT&T tuition assistance covered the tuition costs.  It was a good offer, so I enrolled.” 

After getting his Associate’s degree from Pace, Thomas was determined to continue with his education, so he enrolled at Missouri Southern State University, which was close to home.  “I enrolled in the Computer Science degree program at Missouri Southern to get my Bachelor’s degree because NACTEL / Pace didn’t offer a Bachelor’s degree at the time.  After hearing that they had started a Bachelor’s program, I didn’t hesitate – I enrolled in it right away.” 

While working as much as 45- 50 hours a week and being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Thomas studied whenever he could fit it in.  “My wife is getting a dual Master’s degree, so we had to take turns studying while balancing the kids and their busy schedules.  I would study from around 10 p.m. to midnight, and then get up to go to work.”  Thomas took three classes a semester, non-stop, even taking classes throughout the summer.  “I never thought I’d get to go to college.  Now that I have had the opportunity, I am as proud of my degree as I can be.  Because of my NACTEL / Pace degree, I understand my job and the work I do on another level.  I want to keep learning; it is important.”

“I wanted to prove to myself that I could get a degree, as well as set the bar high for my kids that if I can do it, they can do it, too.  My wife and I expect high grades for ourselves and we have set that standard for our kids as well – nothing less than a ‘B’ will do.”

Thomas graduated Summa Cum Laude from Pace University with his Bachelor’s degree and has been accepted into the Master's in Engineering Technology program at Pittsburg State University.

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