Michael BoissonneaultMichael Boissonneault

Excelsior College

Online Only SchoolProgram Type/Area of Study: MS in Cybersecurity

Years Served: 24

Tell us about yourself:

I currently work for the Army as an IT specialist, and before that I was in the U.S. Navy for 24 and a half years. I’m married to a wonderful woman and live in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

What prompted you to return to school?

Well my background in the Navy was primarily external communications, basically the way that the ship could communicate with everybody that they needed to. What was emerging at the time in the late 80s and early 90s, was computers and networking. That’s what led me to my current career now in the Army as an IT specialist, but then I wanted to be able to understand my security coworkers who sat next to me, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. With all the things you see in the news about hacking and cyber-attacks, I became pretty interested in the subject. I knew about networking but wanted to know more, so I decided to get a master’s in cybersecurity. Also, in the northern Virginia-DC area, the market is extremely competitive. I knew if I wanted to move up I was going to have to pursue a master’s degree.

Why did you choose Excelsior College?

I earned my first two degrees from Excelsior, because of the flexibility when I was deployed, so I looked at them first. When I saw they had what I wanted, it was my first choice. With my work schedule, I needed something that I could do completely online.

What has your experience been like as a student?

Well when I was on active duty, I was studying on the ship or at home because I was partly on a ship and then went to shore duty, so I finished on shore duty. It was just extremely convenient. I know some people who were going to different schools. They had to go sit and actually sit in a classroom. That wasn’t going to work for me with my work schedule, so I needed something that I could do completely online. We had to interact with other students about topics we had to post about every week, usually two, and then we had to go and comment on at least two people’s posts. So there was interaction there. I did enjoy the interaction, and the instructors got involved in that, as well, so everybody was participating.

What challenges did you have adjusting to campus culture after military life?

N/A

Do you believe your military experience has made you a better student?

Well, my military experience was great foundation, because of the discipline that’s required, the attention to detail. It just builds you a good foundation so that you can continue to be successful throughout life. I think where it helped me in this case, when you undertake any kind of education toward a degree you really need to stay focused and disciplined and persistent with your studies or you won’t finish. With online courses, you’re sitting at home and you’ve got kids running around, dogs barking, friends want to go out, what have you. You have to be able to say “You know what, I have to work on this. I have to get it done.” You also need family to understand because they’re sacrificing as well because you’re doing your thing and you’re away from them. So I think that family support is a big part of it too.

What advice do you have for veterans returning to school?

I would venture to say if Excelsior wasn’t around, I don’t know if I would be in this position that I am in today and getting ready to graduate. The curriculum is very challenging but they’ve made it very convenient and very accessible for us to achieve.