Balancing Army service, fatherhood and academics, 2021 grad earns master’s in project management

Rising Up at KUEC: In this Q&A series, outstanding 2021 KU graduates share how the KU Edwards Campus has helped them start, advance or change their career. Meet Joshua Sumpter.

Joshua Sumpter, Master of Science in Project Management 2021 graduate

As a soldier in the U.S. Army, a KU student and a student at the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) in Leavenworth, Kansas, Joshua Sumpter is used to having a busy schedule. On top of that, the 34-year-old and his wife, Madison, also welcomed a son, Bruce, to the family last year. Graduating from KU this May with a Master of Science in Project Management, Sumpter is particularly proud of his ability to balance fatherhood with his education.

“Spending time with my wife and son makes me the happiest and allows a brief respite from constant reading and homework for two master’s degrees,” Sumpter said. “While the project management capstone is impressive, nothing compares to holding the little guy and playing with him after each day.”

After retiring from the Army, Sumpter plans to use his project management skills to transition into a civilian career. Read his advice to others interested in pursuing an advanced degree!

Q: What was a typical day in your life like as a KU student? 

A: My typical day starts with physical training. I tried to do my weightlifting and cardio prior to school. I attended daily classes at CGSC for four to six hours a day prior to beginning KU coursework. At home, I completed readings for the next CGSOC [Command and General Staff Officer Course] classes and attended KU courses, ensuring I spent time with my wife and son.

Q: What makes you the happiest?

A: Spending time with my wife and son makes me the happiest and allows a brief respite from constant reading and homework for two master’s degrees. This also ensures the adage of “happy wife, happy life”! Playing with my son reminds me that the little things in life are enjoyable. The little critter is beginning to crawl and become mobile!

Q: What motivates you? 

A: I’m motivated by prospects of life after Army retirement and maximizing options of job selection outside of defense contract work. I need a master’s degree to maintain promotion potential inside the military and maintain competitiveness in the civilian sector.

Q: Why did you choose KU? 

A: I selected KU because of pricing and degree options coordinating with CGSOC. I needed a degree program that could work around CGSOC requirements and offer night classes.

Q: How did KU meet your personal and/or academic needs? 

A: KU allowed me to meet academic needs by allowing synchronization with CGSOC timelines. The instructors’ flexibility provided me the ability to complete all coursework and never become overburdened.

Q: How has your KU degree prepared you for the future?

A: The KU degree prepared me for the future by teaching me a codified approach to project management, similar to Army operational planning, that I can use through my military career and beyond. It allowed me to remain competitive in my career and post-military life.

Q: What was the most difficult part of earning your college degree and how did you overcome it? 

A: The most challenging aspect of completing my degree plan is working on two full-time master’s degree programs. I overcame this challenge by careful prioritization of time and communicating with Madison to ensure ample time is given to homework and dedicated time for family.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?

A: I’m most proud of becoming a father during my completion of both master’s programs. While the project management capstone is impressive, nothing compares to holding the little guy and playing with him after each day.

Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at KU in Leavenworth? 

A: While most of my courses have been distant, I have enjoyed the many Zoom courses with my instructors. The open dialogue from a comfortable setting allowed everyone to participate and it was nice seeing people without masks!

Q: What are your long-term career goals and how do you plan to achieve them?

A: After at least eight more years, I plan on completing my 20-year career in the Army and then competing for a project management position in a civilian organization. I intend on maintaining my project management skillset, obtaining the PMP certification in the next year or two and compiling a competitive resume for life after the Army.

Q: What advice would you give others who are thinking of earning a degree, whether a first-time bachelor’s, a second bachelor’s or a master’s? 

A: Plan carefully and communicate with significant other. This takes serious time and concentration. Don’t negate your family to accomplish your goals. 

Learn more about KU in Leavenworth. 


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