Building a future
Education and professional experience have been ongoing and interchangeable in Perry Thuli’s life. When he left UWPlatteville at age 20 to become part owner in a motel chain, he had no idea almost 30 years would pass before he completed his bachelor’s degree. Notably, there is an unplanned benefit of the timing. “At my age its nice having a degree with updated information—technology has changed and this makes a big difference,” Perry says.
In January of 2010, Perry put his construction business on hold and made the commitment to complete his degree. “My wife was hugely supportive. We used savings to pay for school,” says Perry. “It was a big decision and it took some time to come to that decision—when I weighed the value of the degree, the opportunity lost, the cost versus what I got in the end—I get a lot of self-satisfaction and it’s really hard to put a dollar amount on that.” Through a combination of online and print-based courses, Perry completed the degree, graduating in December of 2010. The online discussions with classmates helped clarify the course material and give a broad context of application.
“The type of student involved in the online program coming back to school after having worked, bringing life experience and work experience to the classroom makes a big difference. You could see the course content from a lot of different perspectives. You probably get a broader class discussion than you would in a classroom of younger students ... there is more of a willingness to share,” says Perry.
Perry encourages his nieces, nephews and others contemplating school to go for it. “I believe having a formal education is important, which is why I wanted to finish. Anyone even considering doing it should do it!”
Post script: After this article was written, Perry was offered a position to take over an existing agency for American Family Insurance beginning October 3, 2011. In the follow-up correspondence, Perry said, “Finishing the degree was absolutely the correct decision. The degree helped to open the door to future opportunity.”