Donald and Tracy Dudley have been married 11 years.

She’s worked nearly 30 years in a governmental role, while he recently took a job as a security engineer. In 2015, Tracy received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and Donald received his Bachelor’s in Information Technology through FlexPath, Capella University’s self-paced learning format.

Although each of them felt a bachelor’s degree was important, neither had completed one for various reasons.


“I didn’t go back because life happened.” – Tracy Dudley

“I didn’t go back because of my commitment to my family.” – Donald Dudley


Time, Money, Family

Tracy: “I was a young, single mother at the same time I was in Rutgers University’s Nursing Program in Newark, New Jersey. I decided that I needed to work versus giving up my money for tuition, books, and everything associated with school. Over the years, I thought about it often, and have taken classes here and there. But I never really fully committed to going back to school until a girlfriend introduced me to Capella University.”

“I initially was hesitant about doing it because I had started my schooling over so many times and never finished, and I just didn’t want to start something and not finish it again. So, when I actually registered I didn’t even tell my husband about it because I didn’t think I would finish.”


Donald: “Ten years ago, our blended family of five was just starting out and learning how to support one another. I don’t think either of us was ready for school at that moment. Fast forward 10 years, we now have an empty house, giving us comfort and space to really be locked in on our education.

“It’s definitely given us a different perspective on life and family.”



FlexPath Made the Difference

Both of them started programs at Capella in the GuidedPath format, but once they learned about FlexPath, there was no holding them back.

Tracy: “Because of the flexibility of the FlexPath format, I knew I could finish and make myself and my entire family proud.

“FlexPath also allowed me as a professional, working woman to incorporate a lot of my life into my assessments. I tapped into some of my resources at work—senior leaders or some of the committees that I chaired or co-chaired—to help with some of the assignments.”

In fact, it was the success of the FlexPath approach that led Tracy to confess her secret to Donald, a secret that ultimately led him to follow her path.

Tracy: “A few months in, I really started feeling good about it, and said, oh, I think I can finish. So then I let him in on it, and his support from that point forward was just tremendous. I think me graduating a year ago really opened up his eyes as well.”

One of the most attractive features of FlexPath for both of them was the ability to go at their own pace. In Donald’s case, that motivated him to move forward as quickly as he could.

Donald: “I completed my bachelor’s, and am currently pursuing my master’s degree.”



Immediate Applicability

Another positive benefit of FlexPath? The Dudleys were able to immediately apply what they were learning in their daily work lives, and vice versa.

Tracy: “I do a lot of work in human resources and strategic planning, and I could take a lot of the coursework and relate it to work-related situations. That made it somewhat easier to navigate so that when I did get those courses that were difficult, I could spend more time on them.”


Donald: “The FlexPath format gave me the ability to connect the dots between school and my professional life. Specifically, the IT security-related and governance coursework directly correlated to my position as a senior security engineer. There were some things I didn’t know about IT security, so the coursework bridged the gap and gave me a new understanding of how important IT security is.

“Getting my degree has attracted a lot of recruiters. I updated my LinkedIn profile and my resume online, and I get calls daily. For personal reasons, I’m not ready to make a move to another position, but my degree has definitely attracted another level of interest.”


Advice for Potential FlexPath Participants

Donald: “I just want people to know that no matter how old you are, no matter what your circumstances are, you can obtain a college degree. It’s not that it’s easy; there’s a tremendous amount of work involved. But if you have the initiative—the commitment, the drive, and energy—Capella is definitely an institution I recommend, especially FlexPath.”


Interested in self-paced learning? Learn more about FlexPath.

See graduation rates, median student debt, and other information at Capella Results.