Hawaii graduate found encouragement to pursue degrees

Returning to the classroom after years away brings much apprehension and even fear to many adult students at Wayland Baptist University. But it doesn’t take long for those same students to find acceptance, encouragement and support for their goals and go on to see their dreams fulfilled.

Michael Rennie is a perfect example. Though he’d long carried the dream of a college diploma with him, memories of his high school experience kept him from taking the plunge. When he encountered Wayland while stationed in the Air Force in Hawaii, Rennie found an open door and a new opportunity.

“It just took the right institution and the right faculty and staff to pursue a degree of difference,” Rennie said. “My dream brought me to Wayland Baptist, and I am thrilled to have remained with this fine institution for both undergraduate and graduate studies.”

When he came to Wayland in 2002, Rennie’s only goal was to graduate. Along the way, however, he found encouragement to really learn, expand his mind and set goals he could meet.

“Dr. Reid (Hawaii campus dean) taught me that by setting challenging, purposeful goals, I lay the foundation for my future,” he said. “He taught me to write down my long- and short-term goals to plan and to make reasoned decisions based upon an end-state aspiration.

“I am now a firm believer that people who have an unclear picture of themselves and make unclear choices end up with an unclear future and never truly appreciate what they long for.”

Rennie said one the keys to his success at Wayland and the completion of his dream hinged on the commitment of the faculty and staff toward seeing students succeed. On the flip side, Rennie said the WBU Hawaii staff promoted a shared commitment where the students and employees are a team in seeing the degree fulfilled. That mutual commitment helped Rennie and his classmates stick to the deal to see their dreams become reality.

“I always wanted to pursue my education, but until we commenced upon our proverbial contract, I always failed,” Rennie said. “Our commitment forced me to look for alternatives and solutions in a never-ending quest to reach academic goals instead of giving up. My relationship with Wayland allowed me to not only commit to a dream but also jointly claim it.”

Rennie earned his bachelor’s degree in management in 2006, then continued studying, earning his master’s degree in health care administration in 2007. He is currently working on the doctorate through Capella University in healthcare administration, and he has future aspirations to work in that field when he returns to Ohio. Specifically, he’d like to work as a hospital or healthcare group as an administrator or CEO role.

Still serving in the Air Force, Rennie has moved into higher roles of leadership and hopes his experience inspires others to pursue their dreams and embrace education. He credits his wife Suzie with inspiring him to pursue higher education and follow in her academic footsteps, and he knows he is setting a positive example for their children Jarrod and Chelsea that “an education is worth the time invested.”

Rennie said his educational journey has helped him form three main philosophies for success that he shares with those around him by word and by deed. The first is to effectively plan for success and leave a legacy for others to follow. The second is to work hard in times of prosperity, never being content with status quo and pushing oneself to improve and lead by example. The third philosophy is one Rennie carries to heart.

“Don’t be sorry for setting high standards,” he said. “The bar of behavior is measured at the rung you place it. The success of families, colleagues, oneself and the mission demands standards of uncompromising obedience. Carry the banner and set the standard!”