Success Stories

MILITARY STUDENTS MEET SUCCESS AT CREIGHTON AND BEYOND.

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Veterans, active duty service members and their dependents create remarkable success stories at Creighton University by bringing the same drive, determination and focus from their military lives to their studies. Read some of their success stories and share yours.

Austin Ayers

Austin  AyersThe day Austin Ayers received his high school diploma, he headed straight to the local U.S. Marine Corps recruiter's office and left for training that night. He promised his mother he would get a college degree one day, but he just wasn't ready yet.

After several years of service and two overseas deployments, Ayers and his family returned to their hometown of Omaha. Before long, he started thinking of that promise.

In the Marine Corps, Ayers had gained confidence and learned the value of hard work and determination. He would need these traits as he dove into pursuing his bachelor's degree (double majoring in business intelligence and analytics and finance at Creighton) while raising a family and working full time.

Even with these demanding commitments, he has never cut corners. Now he is watching it pay off.

Read his story

Jason Black

Jason Black in front of solar arraysAfter spending more than a decade as a defense analyst in the U.S. Air Force, Jason Black decided to earn a bachelor's degree, enter the contracting world and make his home on the east coast. But before long, he realized the position he truly wanted would remain out of reach until he had years more experience under his belt. He didn't want to just "keep grinding away" in the meantime.

Looking for a new way to make a positive impact in the world, health care seemed like a natural choice. Black decided he wanted to study nursing and become a nurse practitioner.

But after he'd been accepted to Creighton, another area unexpectedly caught his interest: sustainability.

Read Black's story

Margarita Caraway

Margarita Caraway and familyA natural leader with relentless drive, Margarita Caraway has served in the Army Reserve for the past nine years, while raising her family and completing prerequisites for pharmacy school.

To gain health care experience, Caraway trained as a pharmacy technician after joining the Army at 18. A self-described "talker," she immediately loved the opportunity that pharmacy work gave her to talk with people from all walks of life. During her first deployment to Mosul, Iraq, she worked with a medical unit that treated soldiers from all different branches of the U.S. military plus Iraqi soldiers. Caraway deployed just six months after the birth of her first daughter; of course, "it was rough," she says.

Still, she "considered it an honor to care for [the soldiers] and to hear their stories." That lasting sentiment convinced her to make pharmacy school her new goal. She's now a pharmacy student at Creighton University.

Read Caraway's story

Scott Christenson

Scott Christenson on climbing wallWith his tattoos, beard and altruistic aims, Scott Christenson could be survivalist Bear Grylls meets global humanitarian Paul Farmer.

Christenson was working as a manager at retail store Menards when he decided to join the U.S. Air Force to travel the world. Christenson served as an airborne crypotologic linguist, which involved learning Persian and working with translation and intelligence reporting.

Christenson enjoyed the camaraderie of the military and moved steadily up the ranks, but the self-described "lifelong learner" felt restless.

"I started thinking about health as I got older and got injured more." On a snowboarding trip in the Alps, he hurt his back so badly that he had to spend a night in the hospital.

"Then I took a survival class and got the idea in my head that I wanted to learn how to help when something goes wrong," he says. It wasn't long until that idea became a full-fledged plan: ultimately, medical school.

Read Christenson's story

Chris Mesnard

Chris Mesnard

"When I returned from Thailand, I chose to use my military benefits at Creighton simply because Omaha is my home, and Creighton is renowned for its medical program. I also read that it was rated as an extremely military friendly college, which eliminated any hesitation regarding my choice.

Being a military student at Creighton doesn't feel any different from being a normal student, I suppose. I'm a little older and carry much more life experience, but I don't notice too much of a difference. The College of Professional Studies is great, and I'm thankful to have such a wonderful advisor who truly cares. Creighton is an outstanding institution and I'm happy with my choice to attend.

The Office of Military Affairs is outstanding, and they have gone above and beyond to accommodate me. Mark Turner has been around for a long time and knows the faculty well, and how things run. He has been an immense help to me, and the entire office in general has always been there for me. I would say that they are in keeping with the immaculate reputation that Creighton carries.

Overall, being a student at Creighton has been a wonderful experience, and I have felt welcome and accepted. The faculty and staff are incredible, and I'm privileged to attend such a professional and renowned institution."

Jacob Hardiman

Jacob Hardiman

"Growing up in Council Bluffs, so close to Creighton, I always heard what a great school it was. When it was time for me to use my benefits, the first thing I did was call Creighton admissions and ask if my benefits would cover the cost of tuition. I was so excited to find out that Creighton is an incredibly military friendly school. I was immediately put in touch with advisors and counselors who helped me get enrolled and set up for success. Thanks to awesome people like Laurie Galeski, I was able to complete most of the admissions requirements while I was in Afghanistan, and hit the ground running when I got to Nebraska.

My experience at Creighton has been incredibly rewarding, and an experience I will never forget. I feel like I am getting a first-class education from one of the best schools in the country. I am proud to call myself a Creighton student, I have learned so much here, and made lifelong friends, it has truly been on of the greatest experiences of my life. I would tell any military student thinking of going to Creighton that you will not be sorry, Creighton is a school that makes you feel like you are walking into your hometown every time you step foot on campus."

Jenna Mucci

Jenna Mucci

Between shifts of brewing up lattes as a barista, Jenna Mucci pursues her biology degree. A new student who started in the fall at Creighton, Mucci said she always loved science. "I decided to go for it - go big - and go into biology and probably do research," she says.  

Before Creighton, she served in the Air Force. On the younger side of adult learners, 23-year-old Mucci started basic training in the Air Force in July 2009 after graduating from high school in Corning, Calif. As an airborne language analyst, she learned two languages - Persian Farsi and Afghan Dari. Mucci's five years of service allowed her to take advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, as well as the Yellow Ribbon Program. And her background translated into several transfer credits. "It's great to have some of those credits already there," she says.    

Managing the challenges of school and her job keep her busy, but she makes it work. "Juggling work and school is always a challenge because school has ever-changing demands, but I always know when I need to do school work and try my best while doing it," she says. "My husband plays a big role in normalizing my home life while I am running between school and work."

Although she did not grow up in a religious household, she's already read up on Ignatian values and noticed how the professors implement them. "I've noticed the Ignatian values already," says Mucci, "and I've only been here for half a semester."

Ron Fergeson

Ron Fergesen

Ron Fergeson says he didn't pick kindergarten, but kindergarten picked him. When he was taking an education course while in the Army, he went in uniform to observe a kindergarten class and within five minutes of being around the students, he knew he belonged there. Now he's close to achieving his goal of teaching.

After 26 years in the military with the first 13 as a cavalry scout and the second as a career counselor, the Harley-riding 46-year-old Omaha native was going to earn his education degree at a public university. But when he found out how long it would take, he checked out Creighton. He learned he could cut a year off of his studies.

"I'm honored to go to Creighton," says Fergeson. "I've always held Creighton in high reverence." When he was about kindergarten age, he'd drive past Creighton with his grandparents and think that Creighton is the place to go. He graduated in 2016.         

While in the Army, Fergeson attended 10 different schools, ultimately getting a general studies associate's degree. He says he's noticed Creighton is different.

"The big difference is the personal attention to detail Creighton provides to the students," he says. "They are genuinely concerned about the student's success and how they're doing. It's not a cattle drive."

One challenge, however, is technology. He found the technological aspect a bit daunting because the traditional students have so much more experience with it. He referenced a computer technology course that was fast-paced for him.

"Hey, you're going at warp speed, and I don't have the engine started yet," he would be thinking about the class, which wasn't as challenging for the traditional students since they grew up with cell phones and the Internet.    

Fergeson enjoys debating with the traditional students and his time with the adult learners. And he's on pace to fulfill that other classroom dream - to educate the next generation as a kindergarten teacher.