Wes Deppa fulfills a promise and proves something to himself

Wes DeppaWes Deppa enrolled at UIS because of a promise he made in 1992 when he finished his bachelor’s degree.

“Back then I made an agreement with my wife,” he says, “that I would continue my education after our children grew up and were out of the home.

“Nobody told me time would go by so quickly! In 2013, I found myself an ’empty nester.’ My wife reminded me the timing was right to pursue a graduate degree, so I applied to UIS.”

Wes is a police commander with the City of Lynnwood in Washington state. This past December he completed his Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) at UIS.

Name recognition and a great reputation

A colleague who works in a neighboring city told Wes about UIS. Wes says he appreciated the name recognition and reputation of the University of Illinois—as well as not having to take the GRE!

He adds, “That same year I was privileged to attend the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. I was able to transfer some credits from the graduate level courses I completed there towards my MPA.”

But make no mistake—he had a lot of concerns about returning to school. Would he have enough time? Would he be smart enough? Given how long it had been since he had been in school, could he really do it?

Fortunately—given the success he has had—that long-ago promise got him on his way.

Wes took his first course in Spring 2014—Organizational Dynamics with Dr. Travis Bland. Wes was impressed with Dr. Bland’s teaching style and the relevance of the content.

As a working adult with a busy schedule, he also came to appreciate that UIS Online offers the flexibility for someone who is busy with work and life commitments to pursue their educational goals no matter where they live.

Two projects that helped Wes professionally

According to Wes, the professors at UIS offer another kind of flexibility, one that allowed Wes to apply class projects to his work a police commander:

The first example of this was creating a detailed proposal for a new community event as part of a project for the Organizational Dynamics class. The event was called “Cops & Kids,” and it entailed creating a family-focused event for residents of our community to meet and interact with members of our police department in a positive and meaningful way. The event included a police vehicle show, K-9 demonstrations, a pipes and drum band, and fun activities for the kids. “Cops & Kids” was a big success and is now an annual city-sponsored event that occurs the first Saturday of June. It’s safe to say that if it wasn’t for my UIS experience, this community event may never have been established.

Wes also applied his Capstone project to his current position. He undertook the project under the direction of Dr. Betsy Goulet, a professor with the Public Administration Department, and he is especially pleased with the results:

Dr. Goulet encouraged me to take on a project that could be very impactful to the organization where I’ve built my career in public service. The project involved redefining our espoused organizational values through an employee-driven process that supported many of the tenets set forth in the MPA program. The process was both enlightening and enriching. My Chief of Police was fully supportive and the project resulted in establishing new core values that are highly relevant and meaningful to our police department. These new values relate to all aspects of how we deliver police services to our community while appreciating the contributions of our employees.

“Just get started!”

Wes has already recommended UIS online programs to colleagues in his region. He advises anyone contemplating further education at UIS to set aside any apprehension or fears

“Too often we are our own harshest critic,” Wes says, “and consequently we limit our potential in life. The truth is you can do this—just get started and prove it to yourself. It won’t be as scary as you may think and before you know it, you will see the finish line.”