Celebrating the Journey of Michael Gustafson: Master’s in Educational Leadership Graduate

michael gustafson standing outside smiling

Michael’s path to higher education was not always paved with support and encouragement. Reflecting on his high school days, Michael remembers a moment that fueled his desire to prove the naysayers wrong. His high school counselor once told him, “You’re not cut out for college; your best choice is to find a good-paying job around town and do that.” Rather than accepting this discouraging advice, Michael’s determination propelled him forward. With a strong background in Agricultural Education, and albeit a sometimes shaky belief in his own potential, he embarked on a journey to prove to himself that he could accomplish anything! Even though he was the first in his family to attend college, fortunately, his grandparents supported his desire to pursue college studies.

With this motivation, Michael pursued his Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education at Oklahoma State University, laying the foundation for his future in education. 

“I’ve come so far and want to be an example to anyone considering goals beyond their comfort zone,” Michael shared.

Over the course of his career as an Agriscience teacher, Michael realized the powerful impact a school principal and administrator can have on the culture and success of the faculty and students, so Michael set his sights on becoming an administrator himself. With seventeen years of experience in public education and invaluable insights gained from both positive and challenging leadership environments, he knew the significance of fostering a positive learning environment that encourages students to reach their full potential.

When the time came to choose a graduate program, Michael’s research and recommendations from friends led him to Southern Nazarene University’s Master of Arts in Educational Leadership program. “I have heard nothing but good things regarding the MAEL program and its staff,” he explained. “If you are planning to become an administrator, SNU is the WAY TO GO!”

At SNU, Michael found a unique cohort-based learning experience that set the program apart. 

SNU’s commitment to a “Christ-like” approach in every course resonated deeply with Michael, strengthening his faith and reinforcing the importance of holistic education.

Reflecting on his time at SNU, Michael expressed his gratitude by saying, “Without a doubt, this has been one of the best experiences I have had in my life.” The unwavering support and personal interest demonstrated by the faculty and staff left a deep and significant impression on him, creating an environment that nurtured his educational and spiritual growth. Michael credits his mentors and administrators for supporting and encouraging him as he worked though SNU’s program, furthering his passion for empowering students to tap into their hidden talents.

Program Director, Dr. Stephani Case Ed.D. shared, “Michael Gustafson has been an excellent student during his program of study in the Master of Arts in Education Leadership program. He was 100% committed in each course and in the internship. He has passed every certification test – Principal and Superintendent – and proven to everyone that an online learner can achieve just as much as an in-person student. With motivation and consistent work, this dream became his reality.” 

Michael is now positioned for future success since earning his Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from SNU and passing his principal and superintendent tests. He confidently affirms, “After completing this degree and administrative certifications, I will have the opportunity to move up the ladder in the near future!” Armed with the knowledge, skills, and determination gained through his graduate program, Michael is ready to make a lasting impact as an educational leader.

Looking ahead, Michael is contemplating pursuing a doctoral degree at SNU, drawn by the caring and holistic approach of the institution. Michael believes in the transformative power of education and the importance of nurturing both the educational and spiritual lives of students. With this mindset, he aspires to become an administrator who uplifts and supports faculty, staff, and students alike, creating a positive ripple effect within the educational community.

We congratulate Michael on his tremendous achievements and eagerly anticipate the positive impact he will make as he embarks on this new chapter in his educational leadership journey.

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