A New ‘Major’ At CUI

November 01, 2020 - 3 minute read


Justin Winn with family and CUI professors

Recent graduate Justin Winn, MBA ’20, has served on active duty with the U.S. Army for nearly 15 years, rising from an entry-level position as a helicopter mechanic to become a commissioned officer specializing in human resources. When Winn got the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree, he chose to come to Concordia Irvine to earn his MBA.

“I wanted to learn how my civilian counterparts do business and I feel like I got that,” he says. “I had the opportunity to work with my peers in different industries and get a sense of what their human resources looks like and what their bosses really care about.”

While Winn was a student at CUI in the spring, the Army promoted him from captain to major, “a very big deal, especially when somebody goes from company-grade officer to C-suite level” like he did, he says.

I wanted to do [the promotion ceremony] at Concordia because of Colonel (retired) Grimalda,” he says. “I really enjoyed the classes I had with him.

Instead of holding the promotion ceremony at the nearby recruiting station he was assigned to, Winn chose to hold the ceremony on campus at Concordia.

“I wanted to do it at Concordia because of Colonel (retired) Grimalda,” he says. “I really enjoyed the classes I had with him. The professors and classmates helped expand my mind and my education significantly, so I wanted to share that with them.”

Justin Winn, MBA ’20

Justin Winn, MBA ’20

In early March, before there was talk of a shut-down, professors, classmates and members from the Army recruiting battalion gathered in Robert Alan Grimm Hall to witness the promotion ceremony. Winn wore his dress uniform. His wife and Professor Grimalda removed the shoulder boards with the captain’s rank (known as “railroad ties” because they are two silver bars side by side) and affixed his major’s ranks (a gold oak leaf). Winn then renewed his oath of office with Colonel (retired) Grimalda leading him through the oath. Afterward, the group ate and celebrated.

Janet Muller, the recently-retired assistant dean of School of Business and Economics and head of the MBA program at the time of Winn’s promotion, calls Winn “a very strong Christian man who takes his faith seriously and is really pleased to be at Concordia Irvine where we have the opportunity to talk about and share our faith, and discuss faith-based content.”

She adds that Winn is “a no-nonsense guy. He got down to business and got his work done. Veterans have that level of discipline. They put the effort into it to get the learning out of it.”

Winn says his CUI education has given him a greater understanding of how for-profit and non-profit companies engage with their communities. He has also enjoyed belonging to CUI’s judo club and being involved in a local church.

I never in my wildest imagination fantasized about being an officer,” Winn says. “I’m happy to have made it this far.

This is likely Winn’s last advancement in rank ceremony as he plans to retire from the military and go to medical school — a direction confirmed in part by his capstone course at CUI.

“In the last two semesters, I started to have a vision to be a personal trainer and start a company for health coaching,” he says. “I like helping people understand how their bodies work so they can make informed decisions and perform their best.”

For now, he is enjoying having achieved a rank he never envisioned attaining as an 18-year-old enlistee.

“I never in my wildest imagination fantasized about being an officer,” Winn says. “I’m happy to have made it this far.”

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