Saturday, May 25, 2013

Successful Student Credits Family, Military Training

During his 6-year enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps, Cody Critzer learned tenacity and perseverance. He learned to trust in his own ability and to rely on his support team when needed. When Critzer decided to go back to college, his military service provided more than just GI Bill funds.

“Being a Marine gave me the mental tools needed to push through adversity and complete my mission,” Critzer said. “The most important thing I took away from the Marine Corp was to never take on a big task alone. Work smarter not harder.”

Critzer said the military taught him to analyze a situation and find the resources needed to overcome any problem.

“In the Marine Corp we are taught to constantly analyze the situation, resources, dangers, and support teams available as we progress through a mission,” Critzer said. “While completing my degree, this mindset helped me work through many of the obstacles that presented themselves.”

Critzer faced a range of personal events that could have derailed his education. The addition of two daughters to his family, the loss of his mother and an exhausting custody battle demanded his time and attention.

“At times I felt discouraged, like the mission of finishing out a semester was impossible. During these times, I realized I needed to call in my support team,” Critzer said.

Critzer, who recently graduated with honors from the Law Enforcement Technology program at Rio Salado College, said his wife and family kept him motivated and helped him look for options that would keep him in school.

"While I was the one responsible for my coursework," Critzer said, "my whole family was invested in completing my degree."

Critzer said his instructors also provided support as he struggled to keep moving forward.

"Instead of informing my instructors that I would like to drop my classes, I was asking them about my options," Critzer said. "All of my instructors were empathetic. They worked with me and gave me extensions so that I could finish the class."

As he looks back on his accomplishments, Critzer said he has learned quite a bit about what he is capable of.

"I have learned that giving up on a personal goal is not an option. No one is going to hand me my dream life on a silver platter," Critzer said. "This experience taught me how to celebrate the small wins, like getting an 'A' on an assignment in the midst of a chaotic situation. It also showed me how strong my support team is, and how motivated my family is to see me through to the finish."

"My best advice for working adults who are struggling to complete their classes is to find their support system," Critzer said. "Rio Salado has a great social network, most people have at least a handful of friends on Facebook, and every student has instructors and staff members who want to see them succeed. "

Critzer also suggests taking it one step at a time.

"A big textbook looks intimidating, but a single chapter looks easy," Critzer said. "A couple of times, I made the mistake of looking ahead at everything I had to accomplish in my classes. I was discouraged to see the amount of work I had to do. Once I refocused and concentrated on one assignment at a time, the task became realistic again."