William Culey's Story

“At the end of the day, the program is truly about
building your network and growing your community
so you and your classmates can be successful
in the industry.” 

William Culey

Online MBA, Class of 2020
Systems Administrator, Washington State University

William Culey stands outside of the entrance to the Carson College of Business.

William Culey is no stranger to the benefits of online education, especially as a Cougar graduate.

When he retired from the military, he used his GI Bill® to earn a bachelor’s degree in management information systems (MIS) online from WSU Global Campus while working full time as a records technician.

Culey’s ties to WSU have only grown stronger since then. After he graduated from the MIS program, one of his favorite professors encouraged him to apply for a job in WSU’s information technology department. He landed the job and spent three years learning and growing into his new role, but soon he realized he was ready for more responsibility. He decided a master’s degree was the key to taking the next step in his career and pursuing a management position.

“My primary goal is to be able to expedite promotions and responsibilities, either within a company or with additional opportunities that come with having a master’s or graduate degree,” he said. “So, instead of sitting at the grindstone for 10 years, maybe I can expedite it to half of that.”

Building on a Strong Foundation

Although he had considered other online programs, Culey’s familiarity with the faculty and staff at WSU, along with the flexibility of its online platform, made his decision to enroll with the Carson College of Business an easy one.

“I just felt more connected with WSU,” he explained. “I was looking forward to the comfort of the program—the ease of use, the flexibility. I knew I could tailor it to my life.”

Culey has found the same level of flexibility that was a hallmark of his undergraduate education reflected in his experiences as an online graduate student.

“A lot of the professors have their courses set up where you can see everything right away so you’re able to better balance your work, school, and home life.”

As a veteran of both the Army and Coast Guard, Culey brings a unique perspective to the MBA program. His military experience has also afforded him the opportunity to work closely with WSU Veteran Affairs Manager Matt Beer on how the university can continue to support military-affiliated students as they transition to higher education.

“WSU offers a lot of latitude and understanding when it comes to the military,” he said. “A couple of phone calls and [they’ll help you] put your degree on hold because of deployments or field opportunities or other military schoolings.”

Connections That Go Beyond a Degree

Culey has found a great deal of value in the real-world applications of what he’s learned in the Online MBA program and the opportunities to collaborate with fellow students from other walks of life. As someone who’s spent his entire career working in the public sector, he has enjoyed learning from those with experience in the private sphere.

“I really like the practical work—being able to do case studies and work with groups where we get to delve into things with different perspectives.”

“One group has been completely amazing,” he continued. “One group member does grant writing for Seattle Children’s Hospital. The other one, who is on active duty, does something crazy with airplanes and project management. We’ve all connected on our different skill sets while we are doing data analytics, which is one of my strong points.”

The network Culey has built with other Carson Cougs has helped him outside of his coursework as well. When his stepfather started a nonprofit, Culey reached out to many of his peers for their expertise on grant writing, website development, and financial planning. He’s even approached some of them about working as paid consultants to complement their current roles.

“I’ve been able to talk to different people I’ve met in class who can provide services, knowledge, or better understanding of the different intricacies of things that are going on in my personal life.”

“We’ve been able to bond over coursework, family life, or something we’ve been able to do while in school,” Culey continued. “These are all phone numbers I have programmed in my phone because I’ve been able to build this friendship, this relationship with them.”

Higher Education, Higher Thinking

For Culey, earning his MBA isn’t just about earning an advanced credential—it’s about advancing his way of thinking and using this new mindset to work more efficiently and effectively.

“Because I’ve done a master’s, I have a higher level of education but also a higher level of understanding.”

The courses he’s taken in the Online MBA program have helped him strengthen his knowledge of management and operations as well as business leadership and corporate design. With his MBA, Culey plans to apply for midlevel management roles at WSU so he can continue to give back to the university that has helped him further his education and cultivate a rewarding career doing what he loves most.