Family motivates Marine to return to school

Brad Jensen and family at the Spring 2017 commencement reception.
June 28, 2017


Brad Jensen doesn’t need a college degree for his job as an auto insurance claims adjuster nor for his part-time job selling appliances at Best Buy. So what made Jensen get his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration?

“Have you ever heard the saying ‘behind every man is a good woman shaking her head?’ ” Jensen said. “My wife is the reason I’m here.”

Jensen’s path toward becoming a college graduate began 20 years ago at Michigan Technological University. Three years and one summer semester later, he realized school was not for him and entered the workforce. In 2004, he put his career on hold to join the United States Marines, deploying to Iraq in 2009 and returning in 2010. It was then that Jensen’s wife, Jamie, started putting on the pressure.

“I told him a lot of doors would be closed to him in the future without a degree,” Jamie said. “And with the GI Bill, he could go to a UW-School at no cost.”

Jensen was hesitant. He liked what he was doing and didn’t think it was possible to go to school while working almost 60 hours a week. Not giving up, Jamie found online degree programs that would allow her husband to work school into his schedule. “I heard UW-Platteville was a good school when I was at Michigan Tech,” Jensen said. “And to have that name recognition associated with an online program—it was the only school I wanted to go to.”

Jensen started with UW-Platteville in 2010, taking nine credits per semester. In 2014, he took the fall semester off when he thought he was deploying to Afghanistan. The deployment was called off, but he found it difficult to return to school. With his motivation dipping, Jamie knew there was only one thing that could inspire her husband. “I pulled the kids card,” Jamie said. “Because what kind of lesson would he be teaching our kids if he didn’t finish?”

After that, Jensen said he had no choice in the matter. “I had to finish,” he said. “I needed to be a good role model for my kids.” When Jensen reached his graduation this spring, the whole family drove to Platteville for his commencement ceremony.

“I tease him now and say, ‘You should go back to get your masters’,” Jamie said. But when asked how she feels about her husband’s accomplishment, she offered only one emotion. “I’m incredibly proud,” she said. “Incredibly proud.”

Photo caption: Jensen attended the graduation ceremony with his wife, Jamie, and their two sons, who inspired him to return to school.

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