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Army Sergeant Earns NC State LPS Degree Online While Serving His Country

 |  Kristin Diane Stepneski  | Online and Distance Education News

Sgt. 1st Class Jason Davidson is in charge of the day-to-day operations and training of nearly 40 paratroopers at Fort Bragg. Before joining the Army and becoming a platoon sergeant, Davidson was a student at NC State.

That was in 2004, and Davidson intended to earn a degree in computer engineering. But life led him on a different path, a path of service.

Jason Davidson

Sgt. 1st Class Davidson enrolled in the LPS program.

“One of my biggest regrets was not finishing my education, so a few years ago my wife encouraged me to look into returning to college,” Davidson said.

Working full-time for the U.S. Army, Davidson needed a degree program that would allow him the flexibility to continue working full-time. He also wanted his degree to come from a world-class institution.

“I began searching NC State’s DELTA website to see what was offered online, and to my surprise, I found that not only did NC State offer an online [undergraduate] degree program, but it aligned with the work I was doing in the Army,” Davidson said.

He enrolled in the Leadership in the Public Sector (LPS)  bachelor’s degree completion program in 2013. The LPS program was specifically designed to provide military and non-traditional students with the skills to be effective leaders at the local, state and federal level as well as in nonprofit organizations.

Soon after enrolling, Davidson found himself in Kosovo for a peacekeeping mission. He said the flexibility provided by NC State Online and Distance Education courses allowed him to complete his first two courses while on his mission.

“Online courses are challenging in the sense that you really have to manage your time and maintain focus throughout the semester,” he said. “Paying attention to deadlines, thoroughly understanding the syllabus and maintaining contact with your professors is critical to success.”

In order to complete his degree, Davidson took about two classes per semester. He said two courses, Diversity and Leadership in the Public Sector with Dr. Amanda Edwards, and Introduction to Shakespeare with Dr. William Shaw, stood out for the quality of the material and the professors who taught them. 

“Dr. Shaw and Dr. Edwards both have an uncanny ability to engage students and are passionate about the material they teach, which makes the learning experience all the more memorable,” Davidson said. “In general, I think the same could be said for most of the courses I have taken — our professors at NC State are really some of the best in the world.”

Our professors at NC State are really some of the best in the world.” 

— Jason Davidson

Davidson aspires to transition out of active duty one day.

“Ultimately, I would like to work as a lawyer in the nonprofit sector, focusing on civil rights,” Davidson said.

“It has been a rewarding journey, and I am so thankful that NC State provided me the opportunity to finish my degree while maintaining my career. Both the financial aid and academic advisers have gone out of their way to make sure I stayed on track and was able to pay for my degree.”

Davidson graduated in December 2016 with honors.

“I was skeptical that an online program would provide me with the caliber of education I desired,” Davidson said. “But NC State and DELTA went to great lengths to ensure that DE (Online and Distance Education) students receive the same quality of education and opportunities as traditional students.”