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James G.
Interdisciplinary Studies, Florida International University

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James is 43, and he lives in Jacksonville. He graduated from Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in the summer of 2017.

He is currently enrolled in a Global MBA program at the University of North Florida. This specialized program accepts just 10 students from North and South America who apply through UNF each year. The 15-month course of study results in not only an MBA but an MA in International Management and Intercultural Communication. Last semester, he studied in Germany. He is currently in Poland and will spend next semester in China.

James, who has 20 years of experience in the field of media and public relations, including jobs in the executive and managerial levels, grew up in Georgia and completed an associate degree at a state college there right after he finished high school. He went on to pursue his bachelor’s degree at Valdosta State University, but after three years, work and family demands dictated that he walk away from his schooling.

“I managed to get my wife through . . . in fact, she earned a master’s degree. However, as they say, ‘Life gets in the way,’ and it was just too much for me to commute and work and finish my degree safely at that time.”

James now has four children ages 23, 21, 20 and 1. When he made the decision to finish his bachelor’s degree and move on to his master’s, he hoped it would also inspire his university age children to complete their undergraduate studies. His daughter is currently enrolled at a university, and his two sons are contemplating returning to finish their studies.

“In our family, we are life-long learners, and I wanted to model that,” he said. “Plus I wanted to eliminate any barriers that I might face for not having my credentials even though I have a lot of experience in my field.”

James’s entire family lives in Jacksonville, and he stays in touch with them daily via WIFI and video chatting. He and his wife down-sized their home recently and made other lifestyle adjustments to allow them to live on one income while he completes his graduate degree.

“If I could tell other adults who were in my situation and considering going back to school one thing, it would be this: It might be hard, but do it anyway. That’s just plain speaking. There are very few things in life that are worth pursuing that aren’t hard.”

James said that if it weren’t for Complete Florida, he wouldn’t have continued his journey to a post-graduate degree. When he did his own research about first obtaining his bachelor’s degree, he was having trouble finding a university that would accept his original college credit because they were mostly business classes that were more than 10 years old.

“I would never have known anything about an Interdisciplinary Studies degree, if my Complete Florida coach hadn’t pointed me in that direction” James said. “I was able to say, Yes, I can do this. I can spend a year getting my bachelor’s degree. I discovered I could use the credit I had already earned without having to start over.”


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