Luke Hodges is currently earning his MBA from Harvard, but he didn’t end up there by luck. He put in a lot of time, hard work, and dedication to get to this point in his career.
Hodges was homeschooled as a child and grew up understanding the importance of a good education. “At that time, my dad was in the military and working through getting his own bachelor’s degree,” he says. “I watched him put a lot of effort into it for himself and since then, the value of putting time into education was on my radar.”
While seeking higher education was a goal for Hodges, he didn’t jump right into it after high school. Hodges spent a year working, volunteering, and considering which path was right for him. With a father in the armed services, he wasn’t only considering college, but joining the military as well.
Hodges’ dad encouraged him to pursue a degree first and then determine if the military was a good fit. After further discussion and thought, Hodges agreed and decided to start his college career. “No matter what you are going to do, it’s a lot better to pursue education earlier than later,” he says.
Why Community College Was the Right Fit
Hodges completed his high school years while living in Newalla, Oklahoma, and while he appreciated the proximity of Rose State College, that wasn’t the only factor when he considered where to attend school. After meeting with faculty at Rose State, he knew it was the right place. “I never felt a need to look elsewhere because it just worked from day one,” he says. “Rose had all the resources I needed and there was no need to look beyond.”
Rose also helped Hodges understand and fill out the FASFA. With their assistance, Hodges was able to secure federal financial aid and need-based scholarships to help finance his education.
Rose is a wonderful starting point for those who are still unsure which subject they want to study. Hodges appreciated that he could try out different subjects without having to jump right into a degree track. “The way Rose State is set up, from my experience, was to help me figure out my next move and how to make it work for me,” Hodges says. “Bigger institutions will want you to jump on a track and drive. You get more personal treatment at Rose State than at a bigger school.”
Hodges went on to explain that he doesn’t dislike larger schools, but that a smaller school can work better for those who are uncertain about their career goals. “A four-year school is more expensive and can feel less flexible,” Hodges says. “A community college was the right decision for me when I was getting started.”
Discovering His Passions
Hodges began his career path uncertain of his interests and the best path for his life. “I had an open curiosity and some notion of what I wanted to start with, but I went in understanding that I’d have a chance to experiment with classes and figure out what kind of things were out there that I might be interested in,” he says. “I was not planning on joining the military at that point and I was really looking for a career.”
He started taking basic courses to see what stood out to him. He took IT, computer programming, and business classes. He was fascinated by technology and computers, but also really enjoyed his business electives.
“I loved technology as a tool but found that I wasn’t interested in programming day in and day out,” Hodges says. Toward the end of earning his associate’s degree, he had to decide whether he wanted to continue in computers and programming or learn more about business.
The Path to Harvard
After graduating from Rose State, Hodges decided to join the Navy, where he was placed into the U.S. Navy Supply Corps. This facet of the Navy oversees its business functions including inventory control, financial management, material and operational logistics, hospitality services and operations analysis, among other things.
Considering the role he was given in the Navy, and after learning which hours would transfer to a four-year university, Hodges determined business school was the best option for pursuing his bachelor’s. Hodges went on to graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a business degree, with an emphasis in supply chain management and management information systems (MIS).
With an associate’s and bachelor’s degree under this belt, Hodges still felt he could do more. His continued passion for education led his ears to perk up when he heard that the Navy was offering funding to attend civilian master’s programs. Hodges applied for permission to attend a master’s program to further his business education, and it was granted.
Hodges was overseas working for the Navy at the time and was able to study hard for the GMAT while considering which business school he’d like to attend. “I wanted to go to the best possible school with the broadest set of diverse people,” Hodges says. “Harvard has a legitimate history of entrepreneurship and social action and that caught my attention, so I applied there.”
Hodges experienced plenty of roadblocks and struggles on his path to Harvard. “It’s not like I just sat down one day and filled out an application,” Hodges says. “It took a lot of work to set myself up for it. My path has been much longer than others and I’m one of the oldest people there.”
Upon graduation, Hodges will return to the Navy but doesn’t plan to end his career there. “I’d like to work for, or with, new facets of the government,” he says. “I’d like to help them figure out how to shape cities, and help with infrastructure designs that will serve the entire population.” His passion for finding inventive ways to keep people out of traffic and get where they’re going is apparent. Hodges clearly has a drive to make a change in the world, and his peers at Rose State don’t doubt for a second that he will.
Advice from Luke Hodges when Determining Your Unique Path
Hodges’ success stems from finding his true passions and creating a clear career path. He believes Rose State was the perfect starting place for him. He offers advice to those who are just starting out in their career.
Learn New Things
“Take classes about things that sound interesting to you that you don’t know anything about,” Hodges says.
Hodges used to be a paperboy and reflects upon the days he’d open to a business section and not understand anything. “After taking business courses, I remember opening the business section of the newspaper and it making so much sense,” Hodges says. “Being able to open something that never made sense before and then, having learned about the topic through my business classes, finding myself fascinated by what interesting information it contained was amazing. It was a marker in my memory; a whole new part of life became relevant to me.”
Follow and Listen to Your Passions
Hodges recommends that students spend time considering what gets their blood moving, and what is important to them. “Whether it’s a need you hear about that crushes your soul, or if every time you see an article on XYZ and can’t help but read it, there is a good chance that is where you should probably land, because every day you will wake up passionate about the work you’re about to do,” Hodges says.
Ask for Help and Listen to Advice
Hodges also encourages people to always ask for help. “Ask for help and by and large you’ll find people that will help you,” Hodges says. “I always felt if there was something I needed, there was somebody that would help and that I just needed to find the right person. The administration at Rose State was always there to help me succeed.”
Hodges was quick to talk with others about his future and listen to their advice. His professors made a big difference in his college experience and cared about his future. “They made a positive impact,” says Hodges. “These professors were people that related to their students as people. It made my experience and the transition to higher education, feel completely natural, especially from being homeschooled.”
Be Patient in the Process
Hodges encourages students to be patient in the process. “Don’t feel like you are behind if you are learning,” Hodges says. “Give yourself some grace, especially if you have other stuff going on besides school. Pacing myself helped me to understand my classes better and what they meant for me and my career.”
Hodges finished his associate’s degree at Rose with more hours than he needed but doesn’t regret it. While there, he learned more about himself, his interests, and his passions, while being able to support himself. His mindset was to find the right trajectory for him and not to simply rush through classes to graduate, and it worked.
Considering Your Own Career Path
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