FORT DETRICK, Md. -- Michiel Sampson-Ford is a prime example that persistence pays off and anyone can forge their own path of success at their own pace.
Back in 2003, while serving in the U.S. Navy, Sampson-Ford decided she wanted to continue her schooling and earn a doctorate.
Over the next two decades, family and work obligations slowed down her pursuit of that dream, but this year, she completed her educational journey by earning her Ph.D. in Business Administration, with an emphasis on finance and accounting, from Trident University International in Cypress, Calif.
“It’s been a journey,” said the now-Dr. Sampson-Ford, who currently serves as director of the Internal Review Audit and Compliance Office, or IRACO, at U.S. Army Medical Logistics Command. “I’m really happy and excited for this moment because I’ve been longing for this journey to end.”
Sampson-Ford plans to attend commencement exercises in July with her family.
The accomplishment was, needless to say, many years in the making. Sampson-Ford started working toward her doctorate while still aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68), a naval supercarrier where she worked as an aviation storekeeper.
“I remember being in the bunks, using a flashlight to do my assignments,” she recalled. “I started when George W. Bush was president … and now ending with President Biden. Along the way, life happened. I stopped a couple times to take a breath; other times I questioned why I was continuing.
“But I was determined to get it done.”
The “moment” when Sampson-Ford knew she had to finish came after an interaction with her son.
“One of my sons, now 10 years old, has a habit of starting things and then no sooner gets bored and wants to move onto something else,” she said. “He was excited about gymnastics, then it was swimming lessons, and now piano lessons. I was much like my son when I was growing up. I would start something and then once I became bored, I would try something else.
“I had a chance to talk to him about finishing what you started,” she continued. “Then I realized, I still haven’t finished my Ph.D., so I decided to finish what I had started, so he would have someone to look up to.”
Sampson-Ford referenced a popular Confucius quote to summarize her accomplishment -- “It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.”
Sampson-Ford’s education plays a big part in her role now at AMLC, where she has been building up the IRACO functions since joining the Army’s premier medical logistics organization in 2020.
The IRACO’s core functions are to conduct internal audits, perform external liaison functions and serve as a consultant and advisor to the AMLC commander -- all with the overarching theme of protecting the organization, managing and safeguarding assets, and examining and perfecting processes and efficiencies throughout the AMLC.
“My job is to protect the command,” Sampson-Ford said. “I can’t write policy or tell the command how to do its job, but I can advise and provide information, as well as check and verify policies to make sure they are doing what they are designed to do.”
Two inherently important skills to the auditing profession are the ability to write audit reports that are clear and understandable, as well as to conduct the necessary research to support audit findings. Her newly-earned doctorate enhances these skills.
Sampson-Ford likened the IRACO to a “gatekeeper” for AMLC.
“So many things can go wrong,” she explained. “We’re all human beings. And history tells us that human beings can make mistakes. You need those checks and balances in place to make sure people are following the rules.
“Our job is to make those recommendations,” Sampson-Ford said. “We are the gatekeepers.”
Away from the office, Sampson-Ford, born in Jamaica before immigrating to the United States, has been somewhat of a trailblazer in her family life.
Combined with her four years of military service, she credits her parents for helping instill strong drive, discipline and determination to work for what she wanted, leading to her accomplishment of being the first in her immediate family to earn a doctorate.
“I have been blessed with great parents,” she said. “Even though they didn’t get as far educationally, they have been very supportive. They have a lot to do with what I’ve accomplished.”
Reflecting on her educational pursuits, Sampson-Ford urged others who are considering a doctoral degree to work hard, but also take it one day at a time.
“It doesn’t have to be just five years; there’s really no time limit,” she said. “You can take your time, be patient. It took a lot … but one day, it will come through. You just have to be persistent, persevere and do the best you can.”