Putting in long evening and weekend hours studying is not unusual for PACS students. Like a circus performer, juggling family, work and course assignments is almost a mantra for the nontraditional student. For our final self-paced program graduate, Leland Dye, it was no different. Over the past four years, Dye has become an expert in finding the time to keep his education moving forward, which is no small effort in the Administrative Leadership self-paced program.
“The self-placed program was originally intended to allow students the opportunity to progress at their own speed,” said PACS Director of Operations Frank Rodriquez. “Unfortunately, due to the nature of the program, fewer and fewer students were completing their degrees. So just completing this independent study format in today’s fast-paced world is an accomplishment.”
Like the unconventional road Dye chose for his higher education, his decorated 30-year career in U.S Army and civilian project management has involved some pretty interesting jobs—including providing telecommunications support for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 NFL Super Bowls.
But even after decades of experience working on diversified technical communication projects, it turned out there was still some discovery left in the world. After delving into his coursework, Dye was surprised to discover he had an unexpected appreciation for art, literature and philosophy.
“I wouldn’t have called myself an ‘art person’ but I think I’ve grown to appreciate it more after becoming more educated in it. In fact, I had actually seen a few of the art pieces that were included in the assigned textbook for my Modern Humanities class in person while I was stationed in Europe. I never fully appreciated the art itself until I took this class and developed a deeper insight.”
While unexpected personal discovery is a welcome development for Dye, completing a higher education program has long been on his mind.
“It has been a lifetime goal of mine to finish my degree. I completed my associate degree with Central Texas College in the early 1980s. When my wife and I began focusing on our family, finishing my undergraduate degree became a much lower priority,” said Dye. “Four years ago, the timing was perfect to restart my goal of completing my degree since our boys were grown. I found the Administrative Leadership program a perfect fit for my profession as a certified project management professional with many of the classes relating directly to the project management knowledge areas.”
Dye managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA throughout his college career and will graduate with special distinction. He hopes to refocus his newfound free time applying what he’s learned in the Administrative Leadership program to his professional life in project management.
“Finishing the program was tough, and I frequently thought about why I was doing schoolwork versus just relaxing on the weekend,” said Dye, remembering his time toward the end of his degree. “But, in reflection, the time actually flew by. I only persevered thanks to my faith and my wife and best friend of 35 years, Michelle. Her understanding and support at the expense of our time together was immeasurable.”