With two master’s degrees under his belt and a year left of law school, Michael Boardman is what some people might call driven. But that wasn’t always the case.
Boardman, who is now attending Quinnipiac University School of Law, failed high school his senior year. “I just stopped going and I failed everything that year,” he says. “It was a turning point in my life. I decided to go in the military.”
He chose the U.S. Navy because his father was a Navy veteran who had served in Vietnam. However, when he tried to enlist, the recruiter told him he couldn’t join the Navy with a GED and would have to repeat his senior year. Reluctantly, Boardman went back and graduated high school three months shy of turning 20.
“It was a terrible experience, but probably one of the best things that could have happened to me.”
Thirteen days after graduation, Boardman landed in boot camp. He signed up as a submariner because he thought it “sounded cool.”
All told, Boardman served nine years on active duty in Washington State and Connecticut and spent time on the USS Louisiana. Along the way, he married his “best friend,” Clarice, had two children now 6 and 3, earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Connecticut, and earned an MBA from University of Phoenix, simultaneously with a master’s degree in theological studies from Liberty University.
Boardman credits his military experience as a submariner for his perseverance. “We had the mentality that you get the job done and you learn to manage and prioritize your time.” He’s also quick to point out that he didn’t take this journey alone. “I wouldn’t be able to do anything without my wife. She’s been the glue for everything.”
When Boardman was getting ready to transition out of the military, he started his MBA program at University of Phoenix. Going to school while working as a submarine sonar technician and raising a young family was challenging, he says.
“I remember working on my homework in the hospital as I was holding my 5-hour old daughter and watching my 3-year-old son while my wife rested after giving birth. There were a lot of sleepless nights.” says Boardman.
Shortly after enrolling in University of Phoenix, Boardman pondered going to law school and seeking admittance to the highly prestigious US Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG). He applied and was accepted to law school and then awaited admittance to the JAG program.
Boardman says the knowledge and skills he acquired while studying at University of Phoenix set him up for success in his current job as a senior test engineer at General Dynamics Electric Boat, as well as in his law school studies. “I left the military in late 2014 and my MBA helped me get into law school. It has helped me with my business law classes because I have a solid foundation of business principles.”
Earlier this year, Boardman received word that he was selected to return to the military as a U.S. Navy JAG officer. “I dove in with a leap of faith hoping and praying that it would work out and it looks like everything is paying off,” he says. “It’s very tough to get in and I’m grateful to know that I have a job when I graduate.”
For Boardman, becoming a JAG officer is more than just a title. “I’ve always wanted to have a career where I made a difference,” he says. “I felt like I could do that in the legal field.”
His accomplishments now overshadow the pain he felt after dropping out of high school. “Obviously there were a lot of people who didn’t believe in me and I didn’t really believe in myself at the time. To have the opportunity to get my Juris doctor degree felt like complete vindication of that mistake I had made earlier.”
For gainful employment information, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed the program and other important information, please visit phoenix.edu/programs/gainful-employment.html.