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Student Voice: My Experience as the First Graduate of the PhD in Product Management

Jeremy Pretty, the first graduate in Capitol Tech's PhD in Product Management, wrote about his personal journey, experience with higher education, and achievements at Capitol Technology University.

May 25th, 2000–the day I received my State of Colorado General Education Diploma. I was kicked out of high school when they found out I did not live in district. I did not really care nor did I know what I wanted to do with my life. I found out about a school in Florida that offered an Associate Degree in Game Design and Development. Work in the gaming industry sounds awesome to an 18-year-old.  So I spent a year and a half there, and got the associate degree, but did nothing with it. I decided it was time to grow up and I joined the United States Air Force on April 20, 2004. I was a KC-135 in-flight refueler. I loved the job. It was during a deployment I decided I needed to knock out a bachelor’s degree.

I signed up for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with the goal to earn a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics. Figuring I was going to stay in the Air Force for a full 20 years, it was a good idea to knock out an undergrad degree. There were of course classes I was not looking forward to–mainly math. However, my enrollment counselor for Embry-Riddle informed me that I NEEDED to sign up for the math course coming up. I was told “you won’t regret it I promise!” I heard those enrollment staff for the Embry-Riddle Mildenhall Campus — located at Royal Air Force (RAF) Station Mildenhall, say, “sign up for a class with Embry-Riddle for math. We will accept the credits” So, I signed up. Two weekends over 8 weeks and class are done. Seemed odd but intriguing. 

As a few co-workers and I were sitting waiting for class to start, we heard this British accent out of nowhere. It was the voice of none other than Dr. Ian McAndrew. The year… 2007. Suddenly, math was fun, math was interesting. How he taught, made everyone feel like the smartest people in the world. He was able to break everything down to the simplest terms. You never forget someone like him! I took another math course and Statistics course with Dr. McAndrew. He made learning fun and set forth a crazy course over the next 13 years that got me where I am today.

Once I finished my undergrad degree, I thought, why not get a graduate degree as well. I had a Chief Master Sergeant once say, “take advantage of the Air Force because the Air Force will take advantage of you.” I went and got my Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle.

After that, I thought I'm good for 20 years in the military. But, then started to take doctoral courses at another university I will not name because while I enjoyed the core classes there, the dissertation phase was a different story. My chair was never accessible. Since I could not really get much time with the chair to ask questions, I stop attending and got defeated.

With my post military life going well I attempted and failed the Project Management Professional exam. So, I did the logical thing– I noticed Embry-Riddle has a Master of Science in Project Management, went, got that degree, and easily passed the PMP exam next time out. I also obtained a few other certifications because I really did like learning new things. While I did not graduate high school, I found the joy later in life.

Flash forward a few years later and I notice a name on Linkedin that seemed familiar–Ian McAndrew.

We Connected, chatted a little, and a few months later I see him post ‘Capitol Technology University offering a PhD in Product Management.’ I inquired and that was the best decision I have ever made.

Dr. McAndrew has been the most supportive person ever. He is a mentor. Never have I had anyone been so responsive to emails and chats. Because of his mentorship and support, here I am. My defense is complete, and I'm doing final touches on my dissertation to complete my degree shortly. I am Product Management graduate #1.

I hope to follow in Dr. McAndrews footsteps of being supportive–a mentor–and help people reach their academic goals in the future. I could not have all gotten to where I am now if it were not for Dr. McAndrew and Capitol Technology University.

Click here more information on Capitol Tech's PhD in Project Management or click here to see all of the university's doctoral programs. Dr. McAndrew–and Capitol Tech's support staff–will be there to help you every step of the way.