On the Front Lines: Grantham Alumni CW5 Derrick Edwards

Posted by Grantham University
September 20, 2016

Derrick Edwards At Grantham University, we value the role we play in helping our military students achieve their academic goals.

But offering opportunities to pursue an online degree program is only half the equation. The other half is found in the grit, determination and commitment of our dedicated students. Students who will successfully graduate and become alumni.

Alumni like Chief Warrant Officer Five Derrick Edwards.

CW5 Edwards graduated from Grantham with a Bachelor of Science in Multidisciplinary Studies and then, later, with an MBA. He currently serves as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Senior Technical Advisor to the Army Chief Information Officer (CIO)/G-6, LTG Robert Ferrell.

Recently we reached out to CW5 Edwards to talk about his online learning experience … and his experience on the Information Technology front lines.

What led you to a military career?

The Army afforded me the chance to take advantage of a wide range of career opportunities, to see the world and help pay for my college tuition. I’ve appreciated the chance to play a small role in serving this great nation.

Not such a small role … what can you tell me about your current military position?

I assist in establishing and directing strategy, policy, guidance, planning and functional proponency for Army worldwide current and future Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4) and Information Technology.

It is invigorating to not only have dialogue with key Army IT leaders but also serve as a liaison to the IT and communications industry to engage organizations across the nation on the cusp of change. There is enormous intellectual capital available in IT. These are people and organizations that are ready, at a moment’s notice, to drop everything they’re working on and talk to us about what’s happening in our industry and how they are able to help the Army. That’s incredibly important as we face many similar challenges in areas like data, cloud and cybersecurity.

I am most proud of the opportunity to become a warrant officer in the U.S. Army. Warrant officers serve in highly specialized roles, often acting as pilots, technical and tactical personnel. At the top of this rank structure is the CW5, or Chief Warrant Officer 5. We bring experience and mentorship to all ranks.

What led you to earning a degree with Grantham?

Word of mouth. Another military student introduced me to Grantham because I could complete my studies there in a cost-effective manner. Grantham provided me with a more holistic, online educational experience. All along the way, whether it was a faculty member or someone in leadership, I was mentored in such a way that I felt ready to face the challenges I would encounter.

You seem to have a heart for mentoring … how are you paying it forward?

I’ve been able to mentor younger warrant officers and Soldiers in order to help them reach their goals.

I have two recommendations for young people coming along today: First, set a high goal; make it hard but still achievable. Make that goal relevant to something you like to do. Then be persistent in trying to reach that goal. I am proud to be the first member of my family to earn a college degree. That took a lot of sweat and tears, but in the end, it has made me a better person.

What’s the next step on your educational journey?

I want to take all of the training I’ve received throughout the military and be able to hone my skills for further educational and professional development. I may add an additional master’s degree at Grantham and another MBA in project management. I’m also thinking about a Ph.D. but those are all decisions down the road a bit.

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