Cody Walker's 21-year journey from enrolling in a bachelor's degree program to walking the graduation stage was absolutely worth the wait.
Walker completed a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in the online program at LSU of Alexandria in December 2018 after initially starting college at LSU Shreveport in his hometown.
"I liked the idea of finishing what I started within the same system," Walker said. "I wasn't specifically searching for a psychology degree. I was looking at online programs one night when I ran across LSUA. The more I read about the program, the more I liked it."
Walker and his wife, Jamie, who has a bachelor's degree from Stephen F. Austin State University, are both excited about setting a positive example for their sons, Aiden (7) and Lincoln (2).
"The primary reason I went back to school was to show them the importance of education and finishing what you started," Walker said. "My oldest thought it was pretty cool I was going to school like he was."
The online format was essential for Walker, a funeral director at Lucas Funeral Homes, in Hurst, Texas. He has rotating days off each week because of unpredictable funeral schedules.
"The online format was flexible, so I could get work done on different days," he said. "There were times where I could work on school during my lunch break, and there were times when I was taking a test in the middle of the night while the kids were sleeping. It worked very well for that."
The Plot Thickens
Walker grew up in Joaquin, Texas, and didn't know which direction he wanted to go for a career at 19 years old. Fortunately, he knew the family that owned Mangum Funeral Home in the nearby town of Center, Texas, and quickly found his niche.
"I started assisting with service and calls at night," he said. "I was pretty good at it. From there, I went to mortuary school."
After graduating with an associate degree in mortuary services from the Dallas Institute of Funeral Service in 2004, Walker owned his own funeral home in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for four years before starting a family.
"As the owner of a small funeral home, I worked all hours — day and night," he said. "It was an unpredictable job that wasn't good to have with a family. That's why I decided to move out of the business."
Walker worked as a financial adviser at Edward Jones for nearly four years before coming back to the funeral business in March 2015. Now that he has a psychology degree, he is keeping his potential career options open. Whichever direction he goes, he knows the bachelor's degree will help open doors for him.
"Over the years, there have been several positions I've looked at and thought I was completely qualified, but they always required a bachelor's degree," he said. "That kept me from even having a chance at them. Other jobs out there are tailored toward having a bachelor's degree. Having one will definitely help me."
Walker was wise in choosing psychology as his major. Not only were the foundation courses applicable to his job, but he also enjoyed all of them.
Because his associate degree was in mortuary science, most of the credits didn't transfer, but he also liked several of the electives and general education courses that he took. In fact, two of his favorites were CJUS 4045: The U.S. Prison System and ENGL 2031: The Novel.
"I was surprised — I only took those courses because I needed an elective on that level," he said. "U.S. Prison Systems was one of my favorite classes in the whole program, and I learned a lot about myself in American literature class."
Going through the entire program provided Walker with valuable lessons he will carry with him for the rest of his life.
"Persistence and hard work pay off," he said. "Nothing is too difficult as long as you try and stick with it. You also have to be prepared. The program is as challenging as you would expect. It's also very enjoyable. You get out of it what you put into it."
Walker didn't tell anybody other than his wife and kids about returning to college until he was near completion of the online BS in Psychology program.
"As I started telling people, I got a lot of comments like, 'That's very admirable' or 'I'm proud of you,'" he said. "Especially after graduation, I heard that a lot."
Although Walker waited a long time to finish the bachelor's degree program, he almost didn't make the trip to Alexandria for graduation day. Luckily, Jamie changed his mind.
"I planned on going, then decided not to because of the time commitment, the travel and the expense," he said. "My wife said, 'No, we are going.' I'm very glad we did. I felt a sense of accomplishment that I hadn't really expected."
The greatest moments of the graduation day experience for Walker came directly from his boys. The first one was when the chancellor asked all of the graduates' children to stand up. Walker looked back and saw Aiden on his feet and beaming ear to ear.
Learn more about the LSUA online BS in Psychology program.
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