Degrees at Work: Master Chief Officer Mark Welling

Mark Welling’s vast and unique career has provided him with a diverse background and the experiences necessary for maintaining, repairing, and managing the production efforts needed in the Navy and civilian employments where he’s been deployed throughout his 33 years with the Navy. During those years, Welling has also never stopped learning, always pursuing his education in some capacity. Now the 2017 Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts graduate intends to keep pursuing his higher education goals and move up in his career.

Welling is a quality assurance evaluator (QAE) and inspector within the Historic Aircraft branch of the Naval History Heritage Command at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. The command includes nine official Navy museums nationwide, including the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, as well as the detachment that maintains the Navy’s oldest commissioned warship, the USS Constitution, in Boston, Massachusetts.

“I work 12-hour days,” says Welling. “From the moment of walking into my office, I review projects and answer concerns from around the country on display-related issues.” His day consists of desk work; evaluating displays; and meeting with personnel within the command, at museums or facilities; and dealing with sailor activities. He also travels up to 50 percent of the time, typically to locations across the United States. Welling has been in the service for 35 years and has worked on more than 15 types of aircrafts including propeller driven engines, helicopters, jet-propelled aircrafts, airships, and gliders. That experience, along with his ability to effectively communicate with his peers, he believes, makes him successful in his position.

Welling explains his work ethic stems back to his childhood: “I have worked since I was 14 years old. I started delivering papers, mowing grass, and pumping gas along with servicing and maintaining cars at the local station…After high school I worked full-time in the printing press field as an offset printer’s assistant. Never satisfied with learning one trade, I decided to enlist in the service.” He has also never stopped learning. Welling has attended trade schools and leadership schools, and pursued independent study and taken CLEP, DANTES, and Excelsior UExcel exams in the pursuit of his degree.

His career with the military often required him to travel throughout the world on long deployments, leaving him little time to devote to family or full-time campus enrollment. “Before committing to Excelsior, I evaluated multiple learning institutions and found Excelsior valued and encouraged un-traditional learning for credit toward its accredited degree programs,” he says. Being a military partner student allowed him to take what he learned at other institutions and apply it toward his degree, as well.

Despite being in the aviation field, says Welling, his liberal science degree helps in his management and administrative duties. “I have used the skills taught to effectively manage the programs I am responsible for in the office and in the field,” he says. He adds that the business writing course at Excelsior has helped him to respond to business tasks and effectively communicate strategies and goals. Additionally, the liberal arts capstone course was interactive and the training “brought forth the need for clear and professional communication with my command’s business cliental.”

Though he set out to complete his degree many decades ago, he can now say he has achieved one of his lifelong goals. He credits the consistent love and support of his wife Terri Lynn and their five children, Joshua, Jeremiah, Christopher, Samantha, and Laura, for helping him succeed. This past July, his family was there to celebrate his achievement at Commencement. He says, “I was honored to walk with the graduating class of 2018 this summer… I achieved a goal I thought was unreachable. I could not have achieved this milestone without family support along with Excelsior’s understanding of the needs of a military member.”

Welling doesn’t want to stop there. He hopes his degree will lead to a promotion and better opportunities within his occupation. “My goal is to become the lead QAE within the organization and ultimately lead into a senior executive position,” he says. He also isn’t done learning; next on the list is a master’s degree. If Welling’s journey so far has shown anything, it’s that the sky’s the limit for him.

More Advice from Mark Welling…

Most important traits/skills for success…

“The most important traits in my career is to have desire to improve your work skills by seeking out advanced studies in your field, along with understanding where you want to work in the future.”

Networking tips for current Excelsior students…

“Associate yourself with organizations you want to become part of. In my case, I wanted to learn aviation, so I joined the military as an aviation machinist mate (propulsion and power systems mechanic). I also joined a flight club to enhance my occupation as a mechanic and to learn to become a pilot. I found myself working on airplanes owned by aviators who owned flight-related businesses and trained student aviators… A good source to start networking today is your classmates. They most likely are striving for the same opportunity in the same or related field of study. Outside the learning environment, attend job fairs and get to know those businesses that relate to your field. Chances are they will provide a source of helpful networking information.”

Best business advice received on the job…

“Always challenge yourself to learn all facets of the job you are seeking or employed at. The more you understand how the mission of your organization is managed, the better equipped you are to serve the command, organization, or business you are associated with.”