Patrick Rayl: “Credits Military Leaders with Infuencing Decision to Pursue a Degree”

Patrick RaylPatrick Rayl, having grown up in Clinton, Indiana knew he wanted to serve in the Marine Corps after seeing the movie, Sands of Iwo Jima starting John Wayne. He entered the service in 1986 and Marine Gunnery Sergeant, Patrick Rayl, served 20 years and 5 months prior to his retirement and decision to settle in Arizona and later joined the Department of Arizona, Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Rayl remembers, “I had decided to go to school while I was in the service. I was influenced by several military leaders such as Sergeant Harrison Tanksley and Master Sergeant Boykin throughout my military career to continue with off duty education. As a young impressionable Marine, Sgt Tanksley must have seen something in me that stood out amongst my peers. For some unknown reason, Sgt Tanksley took me under his wing and started to professionally develop, mentor, and influence my leadership skills. What I took away from Sgt Tanksley’s leadership were attributes that parallel the 11 leadership principles and 14 leadership traits. Master Sergeant Boykin continuously inspired me to continue with off duty education and was the driving force behind me enrolling in a military educational program. These two Marines along with countless others encouraged me throughout my career to continue with not only military education, but civilian education as well. They reinforced the importance of continuing to improve myself through education.”

Later in his military career, Rayl enrolled with Excelsior College and remained with them until completion. During his studies he faced some challenges while pursuing his education with only a couple of classes. He explains, “I took a history class that was very challenging. I believe it boiled down to the instructor who was very well versed in the material and challenged the students to perform at a higher learning level. It encompassed several readings from four different books and then a lot of writing. I was able to overcome this challenge by putting a lot of effort into my studies and working with the instructor.

Patrick Rayl credits his wife Alicia’s support as the biggest factor for his educational success as she was available if he needed assistance as well as picks him when up he was feeling overwhelmed or defeated. Rayl also used his military experience for completing his education. He remarks, “My military experience had a major impact on the successful completion of my degree. I was able to incorporate how the military focuses on the objective of “mission accomplishment” and use this objective to remain task oriented. This really aided in structuring each course with the outline and ensuring that I met all course requirements.”

When asked how important online learning was to his overall experience he remarked, “The online distance learning program is outstanding!” Rayl explains, “I really enjoyed the ability to be able to study at my choosing based on my schedule. The online distant learning capability is outstanding because it allows the student to manage their own time. This was very significant in completing my studies.

Rayl completed an associate and bachelor in science in liberal arts while attending Excelsior College. He used time management wisely as well as developed a schedule and prioritized his assignments to ensure all his course requirements were met. The curriculum was challenging and achievable. The online instructors were professional and provided direct immediate feedback with all his assignments.

Retired Gunnery Sergeant Patrick Rayl is very pleased with the Department of Arizona, Veterans of Foreign Wars education partnership program that they provided veterans and their spouses in the state. “As a retired veteran, I was only nine (9) credit hours from completing my bachelor’s degree. With the assistance of the Department of AZ VFW partnership program I was able to complete my degree a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts within one year at Excelsior College.”

Patrick Rayl, Marine Veteran