getting a degree

Learn more about degree programs at American Military University.

By Melanie Conner, APUS Alumni Relations Outreach Liaison, and Donald Barnett, AMU Graduate

Donald Barnett AMU 2

Making life meaningful has encouraged Donald Barnett, AMU Class of 2014, to further his education. It has also enabled him to pursue a career that is his passion.

Donald completed a master of arts in management from AMU. After graduation, he completed the Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) program. Later, Donald completed a Doctor of Education in organizational leadership with a concentration in organizational development from Grand Canyon University.

Passionate about academia and sharing the meaning behind higher education, Donald wrote a piece on leadership and job satisfaction for the International Journal of Psychology and Education. We took some time to connect with Donald in order to learn what he considers important and how he makes life meaningful on a daily basis.

What inspired you to pursue a career in the Social Security Administration?

After spending time in the private sector, I decided I wanted to do something meaningful with my life. I decided public service was the best way for me to use my skills and knowledge to make someone’s life better.

What do you do as a manager at the Social Security Administration?

I manage a staff of 40 individuals who process Title II retirement and disability claims. I also help design leadership training for members of management and deliver this training quarterly.

How did you prepare to enter this field?

First, I decided that I needed further education in the field to be effective. That is why I decided to get a master of arts in management from AMU. This education gave me a solid foundation of knowledge.

In addition, I was chosen as a Presidential Management Fellow after my graduation from AMU. That gave me career growth through assignments in various departments of the Social Security Administration.

What led you to seek a Doctor of Education?

I enjoyed my educational journey at AMU and decided I wanted to learn more about leadership. My degree, Doctor of Education in organizational leadership, gave me the knowledge I required to succeed in my position.

How has the knowledge you acquired for your master’s degree and your doctorate degree assisted you in the field?

I found the education from AMU made my studies in the doctorate program MUCH easier. I had some of the same classes. The only difference was that the doctorate classes were a bit more detail-oriented. The knowledge I gained from both degrees has given me a good foundation in successful management and leadership skills.

Is there a specific skill or talent that AMU has helped you with in your educational journey?

I believe that my time at AMU helped me a great deal. First, I learned how to perform academic research and convey my findings. This was an important skill, which I further developed during my doctoral program.

Second, AMU taught me HOW to think. The ability to think critically was a foundation of my educational journey.

What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment to date?

My biggest accomplishment was becoming a Presidential Management Fellow upon graduation from AMU, and then, of course, my doctorate.

What advice do you have to give to people seeking to continue their education?

It’s never too late! Don’t put it off! Take that first step and the other steps will fall into place. Also, you are NEVER too old to continue your education.

What do you take a stand for? How has your education at our university opened your eyes to take you stand for what you do? 

I take a stand on social issues, fully understanding that some of the freedoms we take for granted are not fully available to all of our citizens.

My education has opened my eyes to a wide world, full of people of different backgrounds, cultures, sexual orientations, race, and other differences that make our country great. I stand with them. For those who do not always have a voice, my voice is theirs.

What do you do in your free time?

I spend time with my wife and animals. I also write academic papers for publication.

Learn more about degree programs at American Military University.