Bruce Klima spent six years as a boom operator aboard the Air Force’s fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers, so it’s fair to say he’s keenly aware of the need to find the right fit. After all, it’s through the boom that a Stratotanker refuels fighter jets and other aircraft – all done while traveling hundreds of miles per hour and thousands of feet above ground.
So, when it came time for Klima to pursue a master’s degree, he needed a program that was made-to-measure for his particular circumstances, which include a young family and a job that requires frequent travel.
After a disappointing experience with one university, he transferred to Florida Institute of Technology, enrolling in the 100% online Master of Business Administration with a Specialization in Management program.
“An online education afforded me the ability to pursue my goal of higher education with the flexibility that my active lifestyle and work required,” Klima said.
“For me, Florida Tech was a perfect fit.”
Since enlisting in the Air Force in October 1998, Klima has logged more than 3,900 flight hours and traveled to 26 nations. After serving as a boom operator, including missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was cross-trained as a flight engineer. Currently, he’s assigned to the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) program in Melbourne, Florida.
“During my time in the military I have worked with and managed many different squadron sections as secondary responsibilities,” he said. “Some of these jobs were people-focused (five to 65 people), while others were program-focused. I also spent two years teaching and training new flight engineers at the JSTARS Training Squadron.”
Klima received his diploma in December 2014 during commencement ceremonies on Florida Tech’s campus in Melbourne. It was a family affair. His wife, Alexis, a marketing and administrative assistant at Florida Tech, received her MBA with a Specialization in Marketing, also a 100% online degree program.
Klima said his MBA in Management demonstrates to his superiors that he has what it takes to persevere and excel. Or, what you might call, the right stuff.
“The degree that I have earned at Florida Tech has opened many doors for my career growth,” he said.
We spoke with Klima about the main factors in his decision to attend Florida Tech, what surprised him most about the online degree program and his advice for other students.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your background.
My wife and I both took classes at Florida Tech. We have been married for seven years and have a 3-year-old daughter. Alexis and I both work full-time jobs and have very active lives. We spend a lot of our free time traveling, going to the beach, running and trying to keep up with our beautiful daughter, Siena.
Q. Why did you decide to advance your education through a degree program offered online?
The online format best suited my job requirements. My job requires me to travel quite frequently and I do not have a set schedule even when I am home. An online education afforded me the ability to pursue my goal of higher education with the flexibility that my active lifestyle and work required. Florida Tech’s easy-to-use online format made it possible for me to maintain my very active family, work and travel lifestyle while working toward my degree. Instead of having to schedule my life around a set class time, I was able to accomplish my classwork when it best fit my schedule.
Q. What were the most important factors in your decision to choose Florida Tech?
The main selling points for me on Florida Tech were as follows. First, the high credentials of the university. Second, the university is a brick-and-mortar university. Third, I could achieve my degree 100% online and my diploma would read the same as if I had accomplished my degree track in-person on campus. Fourth, I transferred to Florida Tech from another 100% online university because that university did not meet the first three bullets, the interaction between the professors was lacking, the courseware was outdated and the courses were not challenging. When I started to feel like I was not learning anything from my former school, I knew it was time for a change. For me, Florida Tech was a perfect fit. Florida Tech was everything that I was looking for and expecting from a university. The courses are challenging but manageable. The support I received was outstanding; I loved the ability to have one-on-one time (via phone) with my professors if needed, and the interaction with other classmates. Most of all, it is the sense of achievement that I gained from Florida Tech.
Q. What was your favorite class and why?
This is a really hard question for me. Primarily because it surprises me that when I think back on my time at Florida Tech, the majority of the classes that stand out to me were, in fact, the very classes that I was initially dreading when I first reviewed my degree plan. There is no way that I could honestly single out just one class as my favorite.
Q. What surprised you most about taking an online program?
I was most surprised by the amount of interaction between other students, the professors and myself. This is the third university that I have taken online classes with and Florida Tech has by far had the best level of discussion board and group work. Many times, it was through the discussion board work and reading other students’ thoughts on subjects that really drove many of the lessons home for me.
Q. What was your most valuable takeaway from the program?
Other than a degree from a top-ranked university? I would have to say networking. Every class that I took at Florida Tech had such a diverse pool of students from so many different walks of life and different parts of the country, and sometimes world. I was able to establish many friendships and networking opportunities, even with it being an online-based program.
Q. How will your Florida Tech degree make a difference in your career?
The degree that I have earned at Florida Tech has opened many doors for my career growth. It signals to my leadership that I have the drive, fortitude and ambition to excel in challenging and stressful environments and finish what I start.
Q. What advice would you give other students who are considering enrolling in the program?
Start as soon as possible. I really wish that I would not have waited as long as I did to complete my degree. There will always be a ‘good’ reason to do it later. But the longer you put it off, the more responsibilities and time commitments will be introduced into your life. Once you do start, don’t get stuck staring at the enormity of the mountain. Just climb it one step at a time and have fun with it!
Q. Who or what inspires you to succeed?
My family inspires me to succeed. It is for the betterment of my family that I push as hard as I do to achieve my goals.
Q. What is one fun fact about you?
I am a huge Packers fan. The entire family and I make a trip up to Green Bay every year to watch a game.
Are you a graduate of Florida Tech’s 100% online degree programs? We would love to share your success story in our Student Spotlight series. Contact us at StudentSpotlight@universityalliance.com for additional details.