By Whitney Knight
Bruce Hayes never envisioned himself going back to college, much less when he was in his 40s. He had just finished up courses at a local vocational school, but the technical skills he learned still weren’t enough to get him the job that he needed.
A lot of the jobs he was looking for required bachelor’s degrees, and like many adults, Hayes never completed more than a few college courses after finishing high school.
“I almost got my associate’s degree, but I got burned out. It just wasn’t the right timing,” he said.
Hayes went on to proudly serve the U.S. Air Force for more than 16 years but found himself struggling to find a career after the military due to degree requirements. In 2018, he enrolled at MACU and started his Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Management Information Systems.
The next day after earning his first degree, he began his second. Now, Hayes is one of the first students to graduate from MACU’s new Data Analytics program, the first dedicated degree of its kind in Oklahoma.
Hayes said when he was wrapping up his first degree, he was actually looking at data science programs from other universities because he wanted to pursue a career in the fast-growing field. When MACU unveiled the Data Analytics program, he felt as though it was meant to be. He became one of the first students to enroll in the program.
“I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” Hayes said.
Hayes said his enrollment counselor, student support specialists and his professors played crucial roles in his college career — and it’s an experience that he believes he wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.
“Being a little older and everything, at first it was kind of overwhelming. MACU really worked with me and helped me acclimate to a college environment and truly walked with me down the road to success. It was very high challenge, high support. Any time I had issues I knew I could go straight to my counselor and she could help me out.”
Even in the darkest hour of his life, Hayes said that the university showed him unparalleled compassion and support. He lost his beloved wife last November, shortly after beginning his Data Analytics program. “MACU reached out to me. It was one of those things where they completely helped me out and kept me going. I had just started; most
universities would have made me drop the degree. But the people at MACU truly care about their students in a truly Christ-like way.”
Hayes kept his wife’s memory close to heart as he finished his classes and walked across the stage this May as a second-time MACU graduate. Now, he feels that he is ready to make his mark on the field of data analytics as a polished and capable professional.
“I recommend MACU to everybody I speak with,” said Hayes. “I never would have thought that I would have gone back to college, but I’m glad I did. MACU has been one of the best things that has ever happened in my life.”