Student earns MBA online while serving in a war zone

(Photo courtesy of Joshua Lippincott)

Graduate student Joshua Lippincott was in the middle of his MBA program when he was deployed to Afghanistan for the third time.

Lippincott, who is a captain in the U.S. Army, will graduate in December after completing nine months of his two-year online MBA program at a military base in Afghanistan.

He said while serving overseas did present challenges, having an office job gave him the Internet access he needed to complete his degree.

“It’s still Afghanistan,” he said. “It’s still a hostile environment. I still lived in a plywood box for a year and worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Most of the work he did in his program was team-based and he had a 12-hour time difference from his classmates, he added.

“Looking back now, it was just so crazy of a time,” he said. “You do sit back and go, ‘Man, how did I make that work?’ But you know, you do.”

Lippincott, who concentrated his degree on supply chain management, said he has been able to use bits and pieces of what he learned through the program at his job in military logistics.

He said the military is rethinking how it transports supplies to soldiers, and his MBA program has helped him explain logistics to his superiors.

Lippincott dropped out of college at 18 to marry his high school sweetheart and start a family but found himself without much job experience.

He joined the Army at the suggestion of an aunt and has been in the military for more than 14 years.

Lippincott said his two teenage kids have been able to see firsthand what it is like to be a college student and expects that both of them will attend a university.

Lippincott said the Pat Tillman Veterans Center has helped a lot during his time at ASU.

“I’ve not had even a single complaint. … They’ve been absolutely wonderful, and I can only assume the experience I have had is the same as any other veteran on campus has,” he said.

Pat Tillman Veterans Center Director Steven Borden said ASU does a lot to connect student veterans with resources.

“We’re a central point of contact … to help connect veterans with resources that they are eligible for (and) could use in order to be successful here at school,” he said.

Borden said there has been a huge increase in veterans going back to school as a result of the post-911 GI bill, which covers a veteran’s tuition and fees and provides veterans with a housing and book stipend.

He said the Tillman Center has 2,365 students using its resources, some of whom are family members of veterans.

Jared Barlow, assistant director of admission and recruitment at the W. P. Carey School of Business, said student accessibility from anywhere in the world is one of the great things about the online MBA program.

The business school offers four MBA tracks: full-time, executive, working professional and online, he said.

The online MBA offers working professionals the opportunity to further their education while working, Barlow said.

“We’ve been doing (the online program) for a lot longer than other schools and with our reputation with W. P. Carey, that’s something that makes us a little bit unique,” he said.

 

Reach the reporter at mncosta1@asu.edu