Contract specialist, devoted dad earns his master's
April 18, 2014
The diploma may say it all, but for Jeffery Byrd, the true testament to his achievement lies not in the piece of paper that states he received his master's degree, but in the words of his oldest daughter.
"My dad's achieving this goal means a lot to me," said Jeffery's daughter Jana'. "It shows me that I can do anything and I'm encouraged to do the same by following in his footsteps and never giving up on what I want to accomplish. For him, success is always attainable. Although difficult times and hard work were often obstacles, his perseverance and dedication showed me that having the right focus and mindset means achievement is within reach."
Those words mean mission accomplished for Byrd, a contract specialist for the Corps of Engineers, Huntsville Center. A strong believer that education is the cornerstone to one's goals, Byrd used his master's degree studies in acquisition management at American Graduate University not only to increase his career and own knowledge, but to set a good example for his four daughters.
"Do your best at whatever you do," said Byrd, who took advantage of the Army's Acquisition Tuition Assistance Program to receive his degree. "With my kids, I want to be the best father that they can have. I want to set examples. I don't want to demand so much from them but they don't see much from me."
Working on his online courses into the wee hours after his wife and daughters had gone to bed, it took two years of pursuing his studies for Byrd to receive his degree. A student just like his four daughters, Byrd capitalized on the common bond they shared. With Jana, grades became more than just an assessment of how well they were doing in class, but a friendly competition as well.
"We'd go back and forth to see who got the best grades," Byrd said. "Of course I came out on top, but that was the thing we had, saying to each other, 'Look what I made,' and you'd have to show the person your grade going forward."
The competition not only helped Byrd achieve a 4.0, but also provided him with the opportunity to bond with his four daughters, something he missed out on during his childhood not knowing his own father.
"I stay in their business," Byrd said. "I let them see the things that I wish that I had. Being a boy not having a father may be different, but love is love, that's something that can't ever be substituted. I always try to show them that there's no limit on life. You really can push forward, and I try to display that in my actions. I try to show them things that some people think are impossible, or that that think are hard."
Born and raised in New Orleans, Byrd served in the Marine Corps for five years, before getting out and joining the Air Force Reserve, which he'll retire from next June. Prior to coming to the Corps in 2011, Byrd worked as a supervisor in transportation management for FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Coming to Huntsville Center as a DA intern three years ago opened the door for Byrd to pursue a career he is passionate about, evident by his time in the Marines, when he would volunteer to work in the contracting office.
"I'm a huge lover of contracting," Byrd said. "I think it's pretty interesting. I love the negotiations. It's customer based. I always describe contracting as being between a lawyer and a business advisor. We have to know the law and we have to do the best job for our customer."