Sun Devil Spotlight: Matt Wilkins

February 14, 2023 · 3 min read · By ASU Online
Arizona State University student, Marine and former 9-1-1 dispatcher Matt Wilkins discusses his experience in the online Bachelor of Science in public service and public policy with a concentration in emergency management and homeland security program, how he earned master’s credits while completing his bachelor’s and his advice for those interested in the online student journey.

From a young age, ASU Online transfer student Matt Wilkins knew he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and dedicate his life to public safety.

“My life in public service was influenced by my father,” Wilkins said. “He was an LAPD officer in Los Angeles for 25 years. I was about five years old when he retired, but that had a lasting impact on my life.”

Wilkins’s career of serving others began in 2006 with his enlistment in the U.S. Marines, then deployment to Afghanistan in 2009. This deployment put Wilkins’s education on hold. However, he went back to school and completed his associate’s degree in 2014. Wilkins then went on to work as a 9-1-1 dispatcher where he was inspired to study emergency management.

“During that exposure to specifically dispatch and emergencies, I realized that this is an area of education that I didn't even know existed,” Wilkins said. “I started looking at programs, and I knew that was the program for me.”

Wilkins is the first person in his family to attend college and recently graduated summa cum laude from ASU Online’s Bachelor of Science in public service and public policy with a concentration in emergency management and homeland security program in December 2022.

As a veteran, Wilkins accredits his ease of transitioning back to school and the application process to the Pat Tillman Veterans Center.

“When you meet with them, they're fantastic and always there if you ever had a question about anything,” Wilkins explained. “During my schooling, I actually transitioned from one type of benefit to a different one, and that was seamless with their help.”

Although Wilkins admits he was nervous to go back to school after a long break in his education, he found that his confidence and studying habits came back to him with ease.

“Don't let a gap stop you because once I got in and started getting in the groove of studying and writing papers, it all came back,” Wilkins said. “I ended up doing very well in my program, so it can be done, even if there's time between your education.”

Wilkins’s academic success didn’t stop at his bachelor’s degree, as he pursued the Accelerated Master’s program option to proactively earn credits for a master’s degree in his final year of his undergraduate studies.

“I had been looking at job postings in emergency management and a lot of them required a master's degree,” Wilkins explained. “I knew that if I wanted to seriously pursue emergency management that I needed to make myself the most competitive candidate. Once I started looking at ASU’s accelerated graduate program, I applied and now I've already finished four classes towards my masters.”

With the help of earning master’s credits during his undergraduate degree, Wilkins will be working towards earning his Master of Arts in emergency management and homeland security with a concentration in cybersecurity policy and management from ASU Online.

While Wilkins is unsure of the exact path he’ll take post-graduation, he says he’s already seen the benefits of having an education and has received a job offer. With an exciting future ahead of him, Wilkins is looking forward to pursuing a career in the growing field of emergency management.

In addition to the Career Services Center, his success coaches and fellow veteran support system, Wilkins reflects on the encouragement from his wife as his inspiration to apply and succeed in his bachelor’s and Accelerated Master’s programs.

“The support network for me was my wife,” Wilkins said. “I couldn't have done it without her. She encouraged me when I was spiraling because I was stressed out over a bunch of assignments due. She would center me and tell me, ‘You can do this. You've done it before.’.”

Wilkins is a prime example that with drive, a supportive network and a determination to succeed, you can reach your education and career goals.

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