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Mother-Son Team Joins 1,000 Graduates from Across the United States for Ashford University Graduation Ceremonies at Iowa Campus
Army Duo Salutes Education as a Valuable Lifelong Endeavor

CLINTON, Iowa, April 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- When Master Sgt. James Grady joins his mother, retired Sgt. Maj. Jackie McKennie in the commencement ceremonies at Ashford University, the two will complete a journey showcasing the importance of pursuing education and new learning through all stages of life.  Grady and McKennie will celebrate their accomplishments with 1,000 other students from across the United States and several other countries when they convene on campus here for the graduation ceremony on Saturday, April 30, 2011.  

This mother-son team is both graduating with honors and traveling from the Atlanta area to the ceremony.  Like most graduates, the pair completed their education through Ashford's comprehensive online learning program and they have never met other students in person.  They wanted to enjoy the commencement ceremony – formal recognition of their significant achievements.

This family story is one of commitment to education, regardless of what roadblocks may stand in one's way.  Being on active duty as a Master Sergeant was not going to stop James Grady from completing his degree.  With more than 20 years in the Army and currently stationed at the 148th Brigade Support Battalion in Forsyth, Georgia, he turned to Ashford University to earn his bachelor's degree in organizational management.  

Upon his graduation, he plans on returning to school to begin work on his master's degree in education at Ashford.  "The flexibility offered by the program, the quality of education, and the responsiveness of faculty were keys to my success," said Grady.  "Being able to complete my degree while facing the day to day challenges of a military career is in large part thanks to the support I got at Ashford; they really went above and beyond to take care of my needs."

Grady's mother proves education is a lifelong endeavor.  After 28 1/2 years of service, Jackie McKennie retired in 2009 as a Sergeant Major, the highest enlisted rank one can receive in the Army.  Moving into a career in the Federal Government, she began working as a Mobilizing Planning and Administrative Specialist at Fort Gillem in Atlanta.  

Even though she plans to retire "for good" in a few more years, McKennie was determined to keep learning in order to advance her skills in her new position.  She went back to school at Ashford University to receive her bachelor's degree in organizational management, the same major as her son, James.  McKennie is excited to be a new graduate at this stage in her life and said that "her Ashford education will be essential when it comes to creating training, team building and policy development activities in her position on base."  

When asked about his mom's success, Grady proudly states that "her dedication is awesome to watch.  She has shown me that no matter your age, you can pursue and accomplish any goal in life."

This mother-son team will arrive from Atlanta to attend the 11 a.m. graduation ceremony to be held at Ashford University's new athletic complex located at 1650 S. 14th St., in Clinton, Iowa.  The university offers regionally accredited associates, bachelor's and master's degree programs.

Ashford University's online graduates represent the face of non-traditional online learners – working moms, dads, military war veterans, career enhancers, career launchers and scholarship winners who need flexibility in earning their degree.

In today's economy where there's higher demand for a college-educated workforce, online higher learning has grown exponentially. According to the Sloan Consortium, online education enrollments now surpass traditional college enrollments by a 5-to-1 ratio. More than 99 percent of Ashford students earn their degrees online.

About Ashford University

Founded in 1918, Ashford University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (  The University offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs online and at its Clinton, Iowa, campus.  The University is known for its high quality yet highly affordable online and on-campus programs.  For more information, please visit or call Shari Rodriguez, associate vice president of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.

Contact: Shari Rodriguez, Associate Vice President of Public Relations
858.513.9240 x2513 *

SOURCE Ashford University