Academics never came easy for Josiah Walker. After graduating from high school in Costa Mesa, he went to Irvine Valley College for a year, and then left for Trinity International in Illinois with a scholarship to play football. Back injuries sidelined him after a year, and he moved back home. Random jobs ensued: from working at a law firm to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. They paid the bills, but the missing degree tugged at him. The older he got, the harder it was to see a solution.
“I didn’t want to give up my lifestyle of surfing and hiking and biking,” he says. “I thought going back to school meant giving all that up.” He also needed to be able to hit the road at a moment's notice with disaster relief teams: New York City after 9/11. Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami. The Philippines after Super Typhoon Yolanda.
After marrying when he was 25, he was away from home even more. His wife, Kirstie, frequently travels on business for an international non-profit, and he accompanies her. Globetrotting had become a huge part of their life. Going back to school meant staying home in Santa Ana. Or did it?
I was able to tune into classes from literally all over the world.
When Josiah came across Concordia University Irvine’s online degree programs, it was a eureka moment. “I saw that I could still continue my lifestyle,” he says. In the fall of 2015, at the age of 32, he took the plunge and enrolled in the online Business Administration and Leadership bachelor’s degree program.
Since then he has joined classes from Sweden, Iceland, France, Germany, Dubai, Brazil, Tanzania, and an Amazon rainforest, participating in discussions and listening to lectures from afar. “I was able to tune into classes from literally all over the world,” he says. “I remember waking up super early to tune into a class in Sao Paulo and the same with Germany.”
Josiah says the program has been “super challenging at times,” and credits his success with the way the program was organized. “Before I started the program, Barb Foster, my academic advisor, sat down with me and eased my academic fears and anxieties,” he says. “She encouraged me to take it one class at a time.
“This fit with advice that I always give myself and others, which is to break things down to their simplest form. Instead of the overwhelming thought of ‘How can I work this hard for 19 months?’ the way this program is organized enabled me to say ‘I'm going to give this class 100% for 5 weeks.’ By focusing on one class at a time, I was breaking down the program to its simplest form, and before I knew it I was done!”
In December 2017, Josiah graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Leadership.
For now, Walker plans to continue to manage the offices at Calvary Chapel Living Word in Irvine, a job he held before enrolling at Concordia. For him, the degree is more than just a trampoline bounce to more lucrative jobs. “It was that cloud hanging over my head. The monster in the closet. The one thing that I didn’t finish. I saw it, and I wanted to do it, but I never saw it happening. Even though my degree will help further my career, I will be using it as a symbol to myself that I can achieve the impossible. I give a lot of credit to Concordia.”