Alumni Spotlight: Erick Dillard
11/1/12 3:37 PM
By Mike Lesczinski, Excelsior Life News Staff
For Erick Dillard, the decision to pursue a degree was one born out of necessity.
Despite his veteran status, 25 years direct sales experience and a good-paying job, Erick continuously asked himself one question: What would I do if I ever lost my job? With his family staring down significant annual medical bills, it’s a question that would keep many of us in the same position up at night.
His wife had urged him for 22 years to earn a degree, but life always seemed to get in the way. While it certainly wouldn’t guarantee employment, he knew that if he invested in himself the better his chances that a prospective employer would invest in him.
So Erick Dillard, husband and father of two, headed back to school. And he knew Excelsior College was the place to do it because of its reputation as a military-friendly institution. Plus, as someone who drives 800 to 1,000 miles every week, often spending time in three different states on a given day, attendance at traditional schools was out of the question.
Excelsior’s flexibility allowed Erick to complete coursework on his own time. And the school’s transfer policy - Erick was able to secure 10 college credits for his military training and earn an additional 48 credits through Excelsior College Examinations, CLEP, DANTES programs - kept tuition costs low.
He enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies program, but soon switched his major to communications. As an experienced sales representative he was intrigued to learn the theory behind many of the tactics he employed every day as part of his job. He was pleasantly surprised to the extent his education improved his presentation skills.
During the tougher times, and there were some in the decade it took to complete his degree, Erick persevered due in large part to his faith and his wife. Never once, Erick says, did his wife protest when he was putting 15 to 20 hours of class work each week, in addition to his hectic travel and work schedule. Prayer, sacrifice, discipline and self-confidence aided him on the rest of his journey.
On July 13 of this year, Erick graduated with a 3.86 GPA and the winner of Robert P. Mahoney Award, presented to a graduate who completed a degree in the face of significant challenges and a dedication to community and volunteer service. As he walked across the stage at Commencement, his family watching from the stands, Erick was able to look ahead towards the next chapter.
But, he admitted, he remains happiest to learn that his passion for education has rubbed off on his children. His daughter just traveled abroad within an ambassador program, teaching foreign citizens about America and learning leadership and teamwork.
Erick couldn’t be prouder.