Distinguished Alumnus

Debra Presley

Hometown: Melbourne, FL. Currently residing in Huntsville, AL.
Degree Earned: BBA with a concentration in Management
Degree Earned: MBA with concentrations in Management and Accounting and Finance
Graduation: 2006

When asked what makes her situation "unique," Debra had this response: "I have difficulty saying that my situation is 'unique' because that may sound as though I believe that the challenges and barriers others face are less important than my own. I have overcome many trials in my life, both personally and professionally. Many others face the same challenges that I have and just like most people, I wake up every morning, put on a brave face and trudge out the door. I simply strive to be pretty darn good at what I do, no matter what I am doing."

Although that statement is in tune with Debra's modest persona, after graduating Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA from her bachelor's degree and earning two Master's degrees, "pretty darn good" may be somewhat of an understatement.

My initial reaction to being selected distinguished alumnus was...

...Surprise! I was very surprised and truly honored when I considered that I was the one chosen out of the thousands of AIU graduates and the hundreds that probably applied.

I chose to attend AIU Online because...

...my financial situation at the time necessitated that I work full-time in addition to attending college. I was newlywed and I did not want to have to spend every evening away from my husband, Jason. The one hundred percent online format and structure of the programs at AIU Online was a perfect fit for my lifestyle. I contacted several universities that offer online degree programs and I was most impressed with the levels of personal attention and support that I received through AIU's admissions department.

My inspiration and motivation was...

...to become what I knew I could become and be the first person in my family to graduate from college with a Master’s Degree. I am the youngest of three and the first among my family to attend college. I am the only one among my siblings that has been self-sufficient since venturing out on our own to live in 'the real world.' I strive to be like the women I have always looked up to in my life - my mother and my grandmother: strong, confident, and a friend and confidant to those around me.

Currently in my career I am...

...a Project Control Administrator for a company that deals in government contracting. I was unsure of what I intended to do with a finance degree until after I graduated from AIU and moved into my current career. In this position I utilize my accounting and financial skills in everyday functions. There are many aspects to this position, but my primary responsibility is assisting the various business units with the projections and budgets for each calendar year, while performing daily analyses that ensure that the projects are working within the funds allotted. Some people call me a "Budget Analyst" but my boss says that this job is much more than that and, so far, I believe she's correct!

I feel my degrees will...

...make the possibility of pay increases and significant promotions a reality. So far, my degrees have proven to be very valuable in terms of job security and have made me an asset to the company. Within the government contracting world higher labor categories require certain levels of degree qualifications in addition to years of experience. I am told that I have already proven myself to be an asset to the financial department in which I work. Although other companies have contacted me with job offers, I am happy where I am and I hope to earn promotions within this organization.

My ultimate career goal is...

...to move into Program Management within the company that I work for. However, I don't plan to leave finance for a very long time because I am still green and just getting my feet wet. I would like to continue doing exactly what I do now for several years and become a 'pro' at it before moving on to something different.

In addition to the Distinguished Alumni Award...

...during my two years within this company I received an award from one of our customers for outstanding support. I have also received various monetary bonuses and recognition for a job well done by several program managers.

In my free time I...

...have become more involved in my community and I currently serve as liaison between the company and the local branch of the American Heart Association. I participate in community activities such as the Art Krewe at the museum, the Greater Huntsville Humane Society, a support group that I often chair at the library and various other groups. I am also an avid reader and I enjoy art, music, and writing. I like to go bowling and I love swimming when the weather is warm. My husband and I also spend a lot of our time researching our genealogy and documenting cemeteries in the surrounding areas.

My words of advice for current or potential AIU Online students are...

...don't let life pass you by because you haven't earned your degree(s) yet! Life has so much to offer and learning new things is one of the greatest gifts we have been blessed with. When we stop learning, we stop growing. One other note of advice is that discussion board assignments are meant to encourage DISCUSSION! Some students failed to grasp that during my courses. It truly is a tool not only for expanding your reasoning skills, but also for making those friends that I mentioned earlier.

Debra's ability to overcome adversity, her excellence in academia, her contributions to her profession and community, and her pursuit for excellence in everything she does truly distinguishes her in many respects.

American InterContinental University cannot guarantee employment or salary. The experience of this alumnus may not be representative of all students. For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attend these programs, go to: www.aiuniv.edu/student-disclosures.

AIU Distinguished Alumnus: Debra Presley

Classes Start June 5, 2019