Everett, Washington, police officer Geoff Albright still has a few months left as a student in the online Master of Science (MS) – Organizational Leadership program at Eastern Washington University (EWU). However, he had already reached the career goal that led him back to school.
“When I first decided to get my degree, I was a sergeant looking to promote to a lieutenant,” he said. “I wanted the education to go along with the experience; it’s important to have a combination.
“Going back to school was the combination of wanting the educational background to apply to what I was doing and making me more attractive for promotion in the future.”
Now in his 11th year on the job in Everett, the flexibility of the online format helped Albright switch to the lieutenant role without missing a beat with his studies. He continues to work toward completing the master’s degree in Spring 2023.
“The program is very reasonable,” he said. “Sometimes I can get it done in the morning after I get to work, or before work, sometimes after work, sometimes weekends.
“I did a couple of online classes in undergrad, but that was very early on — we’re talking dial-up days. With the addition of media and YouTube videos, it’s much easier to do online studies. I wasn’t a big fan of it before, so I was weary of going back into it. It’s come a long way.”
Albright grew up living all over Washington. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in society, ethics and human behavior from the University of Washington in 2005 before pursuing a law enforcement career.
“I wanted something where I felt like at the end of the career, I would have made a difference,” he said. “It also had to be something that could provide for my family and provide retirement, which is important to me. It seemed like a lot of fun, although it’s been rough the last couple of years with COVID-19.”
After looking for a place to continue his higher education career, Albright found the program at EWU and enrolled in the winter of 2021.
“The tuition price was attractive,” he said. “The city I work for reimburses tuition up to a certain amount. Eastern Washington University’s program fell completely under that limit, so the education is free. You have to love that.
“I also liked the 100% online format. In law enforcement, we sometimes work crazy schedules — nights, days, weekends. Knowing the program is 100% online was important because I can’t always make in-person classes.”
So far, Foundations of Leadership is Albright’s favorite course in the online MS – Organizational Leadership program curriculum.
“It gave a lot of different leadership theories and how they have evolved over the years,” he said. “A lot of the things they are teaching relate to my professional life.
“I never had a name or a theory to say, ‘That’s what that is.’ Once you get the educational component, you can say, ‘Hey, I recognized that when that breakdown happened.'”
Strong Return on Investment
Since enrolling in the online master’s degree program, Albright has had solid support from his friends and family, including his wife, Katie, and their sons, Xander (15) and Braxen (11).
“They are excited for me,” he said. “My son, Xander, is very into high school right now. We told him he had to get good grades to get auto insurance so he can drive. We’ve been having a little competition to see who gets the best grades.”
Albright, who enjoys home improvement, working on classic cars and welding in his free time, believes that having a master’s degree will give him a leg up in his current role and future endeavors.
“Since I ended up getting that promotion I was desiring, I’d like to settle into this role and eventually look into promoting again,” he said. “I have received solid value from the program at EWU. It’s been a good experience.”
With most of the program in his rearview mirror, Albright said that the key to success as an online student is, like the degree says — organizational.
“You have to carve out specific times of the day to concentrate on the work,” he said. “A couple of hours a day per class keeps you on track. I sneak some in between meetings here or there. Sometimes I have to re-read a chapter because I was distracted.
“When I got promoted to lieutenant, I was told that one of the things they were impressed by was me going back to school and getting this degree. The command staff noticed it. It’s already paid dividends.”
Learn more about EWU’s online MS – Organizational Leadership program.