Afghanistan veteran aims for executive MBA while deployed
May 23, 2011
FORTAca,!E+POLK, La. - Even the call to war didn't stop the personal goal of Capt. Jonathan Silk, the assistant operations officer with 1st Battalion, 353rd Infantry Regiment, 162nd Infantry Brigade. He started the University of Texas-Dallas Executive Master of Business Administration program 21 months ago, expecting a 21-month journey of traveling back and forth from Dallas every other weekend. In the middle of the second semester, Silk, along with the rest of the 162nd Inf Bde "Task Force Tiger," deployed to Afghanistan for six months where they were assigned to the combined training advisory group-police, advising and training the Afghan National Police.
Silk decided to stick it out.
"The deployment was six months, so I decided I would try and stay in the program. The school supported it since the deployment was short. For a semester and a half I would be deployed. I would be involved with mostly team projects via e-mail. It about killed me, but I managed to stay in the program with the high operational tempo we had in our mission."
Silk was the only military officer in the class, which was full of business professionals from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
"The program itself was excellent but the great experience was learning from my fellow classmates who were all business professionals in positions ranging from managerial level through corporate suite," said Silk. He used his post 9-11 GI Bill benefits to cover the tuition and encourages others to take advantage of their Chapter 33 educational benefits.
"The post 9-11 GI Bill is a great deal for active duty Soldiers. It covered my tuition for the Executive MBA program at the University of Texas," he said.
Silk graduated May 13 with the rest of his class. Silk was the recipient of the class leadership award, and gave a speech after receiving it.
Silk said in his speech, "Being a member of this class is all about studying and thriving among fellow leaders. Collectively, we represent global business. We make tough business decisions every day and we have done this for 21 months -- all while being critically immersed in this amazing experience.
"I have learned through my military career that all good leaders have certain qualities and exhibit certain behaviors. For 21 months, my classmates and I lived leadership."
Silk said that without the support of his command and family, achieving this goal would not have been possible.
"My battalion commander supported it as long as it did not affect my performance at work," said Silk. "There were a lot of late nights at work that made longer studying for the program. But it was worth it."