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Joel Fulton* has worked at some of the best-known companies in America: Boeing, Starbucks, Symantec, and Google to name a few.
But for many years, he didn’t have a college degree. He was a high school dropout who eventually earned a GED.
As he approached 30, however, Fulton realized he would need at least an undergraduate degree to further his career. He earned a bachelor’s in business administration, which allowed him to move up the ladder, taking on more responsibility with each new job. “I’m an objective and goal-driven person,” Fulton says.
With one degree down, he became even more keen on getting the best education and credentials he could. Despite the challenges of juggling work and family life, he enrolled in the master’s in information technology, information security program at Capella University.
“Before I came to Capella, I had gotten roughly 30 certificates in information security,” Fulton says. “But eventually I wanted a sense of the theory behind the work. I needed to know more.”
As his education grew, however, so did his thirst for answers. The more he learned, the more he wanted to know, which ultimately led him to pursue a PhD.
Shortly after Fulton began his PhD program at Capella, he and his wife had a son who was born with some serious medical issues. He had little choice but to take a pause, and he was surprised at how accommodating the Capella faculty was during this time.
“I would never encourage anyone to put their education on hold, but the fact that I needed to—and Capella and my mentors stuck with me and gave me articles to read that kept me sharp during that time—it was amazing,” he says. “I don’t think most institutions would’ve stayed with me.”
Fulton eventually earned his PhD in Information Technology, Information Assurance and Cybersecurity, and he says his degrees have helped him succeed in both business and technology. He currently serves as Chief Information Security Officer for Splunk, a San Francisco-based tech company, and he was recently named one of the “Top 21 Most Influential People in Security” by Security Magazine.
The award brought Fulton some professional satisfaction, of course, but such honors can’t compete with the satisfaction he has from knowing he did all the hard work to earn a terminal degree. “I’m very proud of the PhD,” he says.
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*Actual Capella learner who agreed to appear in promotional materials for Capella.