Irey’s capability and resourcefulness soon earned him the attention of his first of several mentors. He moved around the hospital, working in different roles and taking on more responsibility.
Simultaneously, his family grew to three children, and Irey started thinking about earning that bachelor’s degree. Eventually, he enrolled at another university in a healthcare administration degree program, taking classes one at a time online while juggling work and family.
“I knew this was going to be a marathon, not a sprint,” he says.
In his marathon, Irey faced a serious obstacle. His middle child had been treated for arteriovenous malformations when she was about 4 years old. By 10, she’d suffered an aneurysm.
She recovered, but the experience kept Irey’s priorities top of mind. Relationships, after all, are at the heart of everything Irey does. Familial relationships drive his passion for providing and protecting. Professional relationships drive his hunger for learning, growing and mentoring.
The last of these has played a particularly important role in Irey’s life and career. His first mentor at the hospital set him on a path toward leadership. She passed away from cancer around the time Irey’s daughter suffered the aneurysm, and it was a lot for Irey to cope with.
“But again, you have that goal,” he says. “You have to reach that goal, so keep persevering. You just gotta stay hungry and keep pushing through.”
Irey found another mentor when he joined T-Mobile. In fact, she was one of the people who interviewed and hired him four years ago, causing him to switch careers — and degrees.
“I had about eight classes left [in my original degree program], and I ran out of financial aid,” Irey says.
But UOPX, which has an alliance with T-Mobile, offered a pathway forward. The University recommended switching degree programs to a Bachelor of Science in Management, enabling Irey to transfer his previous credits toward that new degree.
T-Mobile, meanwhile, offered financial and emotional support, accommodating Irey when he needed to study or take an exam.
“They took every roadblock out of my way,” he says. “There was never a time where I felt like it was a burden with my employer, and that’s one of the things I love so much about T-Mobile.”