Brad Ray moved to Springfield at age 18 just after graduating from high school. He worked a few jobs but lacked focus. However, after the attacks on the United States on 9/11, Ray became inspired to help his country and, at age 22, he enlisted in the Air Force. “I said, ‘To heck with it’ and signed up for a six-year enlistment.”
After completing basic training, Ray became a crew chief for a team of technicians that maintained the U-2 Dragon Lady, a reconnaissance aircraft that flies at the edge of space. During his first assignment, Ray began taking classes at a community college and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree. He continued his education even as he was stationed in the United Arab Emirates and South Korea, earning a Master of Business Administration online.
After his six-year stint, Ray wasn’t done with the Air Force or education. He’s an active reservist, and he’s earning an accounting degree from Drury on the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. “I thought I could take enough classes just to sit for the CPA exam. I called accounting professor Penny Clayton and she took a great interest in what I wanted to do. After talking to Dr. Clayton, I decided to get my accounting degree,” Ray said.
“From the first time I spoke with Brad, I knew he was serious about a career in accounting and would be dedicated to getting the most from his educational experience,” Dr. Clayton said. He’ll graduate in the spring of 2014, when he plans to begin “climbing the corporate ladder.” Eventually, Ray says he might run for political office. For now, Ray is enjoying life as a 32-year-old college student. “I have an opportunity most people would kill for: reliving your youth. I’m at this beautiful university and I appreciate it much more than I would have ten years ago. I’ve been lucky.”