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AIU Online's third Distinguished Alumni Award winner had his pick of jobs around the country before even graduating with his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication with a concentration in Digital Design. While Nevada, Texas, and New York were intriguing, Derrick opted to stay in his home state. It turned out to be a great decision; within a month of his 2005 graduation from AIU Online, Derrick was hired as a supervisor in area where he lived.
From day one Derrick was leading a team of designers and programmers responsible for both the development of internal software supporting his employer’s website and the site's actual design. Derrick and his team designed a new website for his employer as well as a new marketing campaign and a new logo. "It is quite rewarding to see your work on billboards and the web … not to mention on all of the vehicles driving around," Derrick says. Derrick and his team were also instrumental in making some of his employer’s websites accessible to persons with disabilities.
While Derrick enjoyed his position as a supervisor, he's enjoying his new position even more. In August he was awarded a promotion to head of the division. In his new position, Derrick is responsible for a team of 25 designers, engineers and supervisors charged with creating web sites for his employer and also engineering and designing software for various related offices. He and his staff have also been nominated for several design and management awards.
Derrick laughs at the days when he feared he would never escape the dead-end jobs he was stuck with because he didn't have his college degree. "I had a large skill set and wanted so much out of life, but without a college degree my options were limited," Derrick says. "I had attended a few brick and mortar schools right after high school, but I always had difficulty managing my time. Sometimes I felt like I would never be able to finish my degree. Family and work responsibilities kept getting in the way of sitting in a classroom."
The necessity of sitting in a classroom wasn't the only hurdle in Derrick's quest to earn his degree. "At the traditional schools I tried, whether a community college or a state university, I was always frustrated by how drawn out everything was. Classes were incredibly slow and boring. It felt like I was wasting my time."
Finally, Derrick decided to try something different: online education. He had taken a few online classes through the brick and mortar schools he had attended and was intrigued by the idea of a purely online education...as long as it was a quality education.
Not looking for just any online school, Derrick was thorough in his research. "I looked at least at 20 to 30 different universities around the country," he says. From the beginning though, AIU Online stood out. "I liked the time frame at AIU. Not only did the classes themselves move fast, but the whole degree program was accelerated."
It was also important to Derrick that a majority of the credits he had already earned would transfer. They did … and AIU Online was also able to grant him additional credits for his extensive work experience.* "I guess even those dead-end jobs taught me something," Derrick says. "There is no way I would be where I am now, doing all of these things I dreamed of, without my AIU Online degree."
Having accomplished so much with his Bachelor's degree, Derrick is looking forward to seeing what getting a Master's degree will do for him. "I have no doubt I'll go back for my Master's degree at AIU Online. You never stop learning. The more I learn, the more I have to share," he says.