For Shannon James, earning a college degree was a logistical challenge.
“I was a charter coordinator with JetBlue and working part-time while going to school part-time – all with programs that were impacted in California so it was really difficult,” explains James who grew up in a Navy family in Southern California. “There was one class that I needed from the community college I was attending in order to transfer to Cal State and I could not get into that class. It was offered one time a year and - for the life of me - I could not get that class.”
It’s a common situation for California residents with schools that are over capacity. But with James’ changing travel schedule, juggling school and work was even more of a challenge. Things only got more complicated when she met her husband, a pilot at the airline where she worked.
“My husband is Air Force Reserve, but he’s active right now in Hawaii so I travel back and forth from California to Hawaii,” says James.
Through all of this, she never gave up on earning her degree.
“I really wanted to attend a school that was associated with a campus and all that has to offer,” she explains. “My husband, in-laws, my kids, everyone are Pac-12 so, during college football season, I was always left out. So I did my research and went to US News and World Report’s college list and ASU came up really high on the list under several categories. My husband had been stationed at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona so I asked him what he thought of ASU and he said, ‘Oh, it’s a great college. And they have a great team.’ So then I dug in further.”
“Attending ASU has been such a different experience than everything I dealt with in California,” says James. “When I transferred into ASU, this success coach that I had asked me what my three goals were: and I said (1) to get my degree, (2) to go on to law school and, (3) to get straight-As. I really wanted to step up. And then she called me again and said, ‘I noticed that right now you’re getting a ‘B’ in this one class.’ I was just amazed that she followed up, and really listened and cared. And that made me respond. Just having that person who is checking up on you, not in an oppressive way, but who also is focused on my success is important. It just made a huge difference. I couldn’t even get an appointment with a counselor in California and just having access to the administration and faculty is huge to my success at ASU.”
“I just love ASU,” continues James. “Most of my clothes are ASU attire. I am just so proud to be part of such a great institution that really cares both about their students and the military.”
“We went to a football game where they were honoring the military and it meant so much to the two of us,” she says. “It meant a lot to me because it’s enabling me to get my degree, but also to my husband for all the sacrifices he’s making: being gone from us and not being able to see one another for weeks at a time. To us, we just feel like ASU has done an amazing job recognizing the sacrifices that we’ve made and we feel like they’ve been very honorable with that. We really felt their genuine understanding of the amount of sacrifice and work of military personnel.”