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Advice and support for your academic journey.

Read D. Gabriel Cruz's inspiring story of how he pursued a doctoral degree. Cruz's faith in God, his perseverance, and dedication helped him attain a higher academic level, and he hopes his story will motivate and encourage others to pursue their goals.

Calling all prospective doctoral students (even if you have only ever had the smallest inclination or thought about pursuing a doctorate’s degree), listen up, please! What you are about to embark upon is a reading of the motivating, encouraging, and inspiring true facts of my doctoral pursuit. A story that I hope will bring you one step closer to solidifying the answer of yes; yes, I will seek out a post-graduate degree or yes, I will make a new goal of going to school for a doctoral degree. By no means should my true facts scare you off (that is definitely not my intention at all) but rather I want to give you the nudge you need to take in order to have ‘Dr.’ in front or ‘Ph.D.’ behind your beautiful name.

Keep in mind that if you dive deeper into this great cause (e.g., by posting my story I am hoping others may gain insight and learn from it), you can surmise that I am practicing how to be vulnerable and better my writing skills. This is in the hopes that a small-town boy’s decision to write and post a part of his life for all the world to see will empower each one of you to think about doing the same.

Again, if there is anything I hope you take away from my story it is that no matter your socioeconomical background, ethnicity, gender, and race (to name some), if you have a desire in your heart and transfer it to a goal – all you then need is support, perseverance, and dedication (to name but a few), all of which God can, and will, provide in order for you to attain your goal. Then you, my dear friend, will be able to reach an academic level that many never in their lives attempt.

All you truly have in life is time.
You cannot buy it or sell it.
As time comes and goes freely, how you utilize your life’s time is what truly matters.
Use it wisely and educate yourself – an investment no one can take away and one you will never regret.

For as long as I can remember I was never looked at as someone who was academically inclined to further their education after high school. As a matter of fact, graduating from high school almost did not happen. I was too busy out with the wrong crowd, partying, and throwing my education on the back burner. Throughout my life I have had some not-so great and super great friends; some who were addicted to the party life, and some who had their head on straight.

For those who were walking the straight and narrow I must applaud and thank them because they planted the seeds within my heart that helped me get my act together. But there are two friends who I am forever indebted to, who encouraged me to pursue a degree. For example, I can recall the time Blake informed me that if I were to take one class a semester, by the time I was a certain age I would have so many credits, and that is just from taking one class a semester – imagining taking more per semester was the end goal. This one person really got my fire burning to want to get a degree, and so I started for an associate’s degree.

Though at such a young age, and barely getting acclimated to the college lifestyle, I did not know what I wanted to major in, and since I was in dental assisting school (which was brought on by my second great friend, Billy) I decided to pursue a dental hygiene program. Not knowing how competitive it was, after so many semesters and classes, I realized I did not want continue this all my life and so I changed my major to computer science. Now keep in mind, some semesters I failed or could not afford the tuition fee so repeating courses was common.

After many semesters of being on the computer science degree path I began researching other degree paths, and I found myself drawn to business. By this time, I was working for a non-profit in the industrial industry and I admired how my Chief Operating Officer carried himself and how he worked. This helped push me towards changing my major to business, even though this was my third-degree program change in over so many years of taking many courses. So, if there is one thing I would highly recommend to those are considering college, it is this: make sure you know, or have a solid idea, of what your major will be, especially for those who do not have to take remedial/pre-requisites, because the route I took cost me a lot of time and money.

However, when I entered the business program, I knew this was the major for me. Not only was I going to graduate sooner, but I was also able to get on a transfer degree plan that would take me to Texas State University where I would attain my bachelor’s in business. It was a win-win move, and I am so grateful I did it. I spent two years at Texas State University and thought – at the time – I was done with college, but God had other plans for me. My faith is strong in the Lord, and I mention it quite often which some dislike and others find encouraging. It is my faith that brought me through every trial and tribulation, and now it is a testimony for others that shows if you work hard and trust God, He will help you overcome every obstacle.

Months after attaining my undergrad degree I was working and discussing graduate school with a co-worker of mine. It was more her telling me how she applied and got accepted to graduate school, and as she was telling me her story, a customer walked up and stated she had overheard our conversation and highly recommended Grand Canyon University (GCU).

Had it not been for God’s timing, and how He intricately worked every minute of that day for me, I would not have been at that very place and moment for the customer to overhear the conversation, where I believe I would never have been introduced to GCU. I know for sure my intentions were not to pursue a master’s degree, at all, but when this moment occurred, I knew God was directing me to a graduate school. And so, I applied at GCU, got accepted, and spent two years completing my M.B.A. online. I do wish I could have attended GCU in Phoenix, Arizona, but at the time my circumstances would not allow it.

After graduating from GCU in February 2021 – three months earlier due to all the courses I had under my belt from ACC – my college career was over! I was ecstatic, elated, and overwhelmed with peace and joy, and everything in between because I was done with school, finally; ending my academic career with the same degree level as my mother, a master’s degree! Side note: pursuing a master’s degree online goes by very quick, there is a lot of writing, and communication between colleagues and professors can be rough – especially when group projects are on the syllabus, so, if possible, attend campus for in-person learning. Heck, a hybrid college path would be just as great too! Okay, where was I… ah yes, I was done with college – wrong!

With my parents telling me I should keep going and God putting the desire in my heart, months after completing my M.B.A., there I was, again, seeking out universities to pursue a doctoral degree. My goodness, I sure am glad there is no other degree after a doctorate (chuckle). I decided to stay in the same accreditation commission as GCU so my graduate (M.B.A.) credits would be recognized and transferable towards my Ph.D. which I would always be aware of because university administration personnel and/or faculty will not divulge that type of information voluntarily. Now, I am not too sure if my friends in Europe have this same type of process, but if you are not too sure either, I would check on it.

Friend, I applied to roughly a dozen universities over a six-to-nine-month time span and was denied/rejected by 70% of them. However, I learned how to stay positive throughout those days of reading those rejection emails, and how to see it as a blessing instead. All of it made me stronger! God knows what is best for me and keeping that in mind always helped with the healing. Even though I was denied by many there was one that finally told me yes! It was a glorious day when I found out – not too long ago from this entry – that North Dakota State University accepted my application to their Adult and Community Education, Ph.D. program!! I am still cheering over it now as I type!

Yes folks, indeed I have been accepted by one out of many to be allowed to get a Ph.D. – hallelujah, glory to God! Now my days are consisted of trying to figure out how I will move to Fargo, N.D. and where I am going to live – all of which I am overwhelmed with joy because I am going to begin a brand-new chapter in my life!

Finally, as I stated in the beginning, my story is to speak of my testimony, encourage others to pursue a higher education degree, and inspire many who are currently on the journey but more importantly, I want to show you – the reader – that with God nothing is impossible. If you have a dream, a goal, and continually put-up mental barricades of all the cons about a degree-seeking path please consider praying and asking for God’s counsel. Only He knows what is best for you, and only He will provide all that is needed to start and finish a life of a student on the road to a degree. And remember, all we have in life is time – it is not tangible; we cannot buy or sell it, and nor can we stop it. Life is about the way you use your time so why not set a goal and pursue it no matter how long it may take. Remember, all my degrees took 18 years to get but can you imagine all that time going by and having no degree – I cannot.

My friend, may God bless and guide you; may He bless your family, friends, and enemies; and may He be your foundation to learn and grow on for every thought and question you have about beginning the great, exciting, and prestigious path of attaining a higher education degree.

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