“This was my first experience with online school, and I became a huge fan because of it.”
Online MBA, Class of 2020
Officer in Charge, Zumwalt Training Facility
Before graduating high school, competitive cheerleader Heather Bui felt the same sense of unfamiliarity about joining the military that she would later have about online learning. But in both cases, her decision to jump in headfirst would lead to more benefits than she could have imagined.
Heather didn’t know much about the different branches when she was introduced to the service academies in her junior year. What she was certain of was that she wanted to be part of something greater while furthering her education. After doing her research, she chose to apply to the Naval Academy—and ultimately joined the U.S. Navy’s community of surface warfare officers (SWOs) overseas. Her first sea tour led her across the Pacific Ocean to Japan on board the USS Fitzgerald.
When SWOs report to a ship, they are immediately assigned a division and thrust into a leadership position that can involve overseeing 30–40 people. Along with her role in safely navigating the ship in and out of port as an officer of the deck, Heather was responsible for training and leading her division of enlisted sailors to operate and manage the ship’s engineering equipment. Her attention to detail, ability to coordinate large-scale operations, and dedication to working with others to achieve a mission made her a natural candidate for Washington State University’s Online MBA program.
She approached her decision to pursue an online degree with the same level of self-motivation and resourcefulness that she has exhibited throughout her life.
“That was me choosing to make a decision for myself,” she said.
Checking All the Boxes
When Heather decided to attend graduate school, her top requirement was a practical degree she could earn remotely while on her second sea tour as navigator of the USS Zumwalt. Several of the universities she researched didn’t offer an online option—or the willingness to accommodate the unpredictable scheduling that goes hand in hand with active military service.
All this led her to find a solution in Washington State University and the Carson College of Business. Heather discovered that WSU offered military-affiliated MBA students reduced tuition, which made the choice to enroll that much clearer.
“The fact that there was a military discount was really nice,” she noted. “That was something I factored into what I could budget. I am using tuition assistance, but I’m paying the difference out of pocket, so finding a reputable and affordable program was important to me.”
Heather soon realized that WSU offered the perfect combination of what she was looking for in a graduate education.