Editor's Note: This profile is part of a series that features the stories of graduates whose outstanding journeys have culminated in a UMGC degree.
In 2021 when Ashleigh Venable Paylor moved to Hawaii from the East Coast, she not only had to adjust to a new state with her young family, but she also had to build in a six-hour time difference for submitting her University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) homework.
The move came when Paylor’s husband, an active-duty sergeant in the U.S. Army, was sent to Oahu, Hawaii, from upstate New York. It was a big relocation for Paylor, who was born in Philadelphia, graduated from Dan River High School in Ringgold, Virginia, and attended Hampton University for a few semesters.
She was already enrolled at UMGC, working toward a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, when the family got word that it was headed to Hawaii.
“When we first moved, I was pregnant and lived in a hotel for a month with two toddlers and my husband,” Paylor explained. “I decided to take the summer off and once we were settled, I started back up.”
Fortunately, with UMGC’s flexibility, it was not a problem for Paylor to pause her studies. When she started back, she had a new baby and a full-time job. “I realized I literally only had five or six classes left, so I knew it was time to buckle down and get it done,” Paylor said.
While finishing up her degree, Paylor took the course Juvenile Delinquency (CCJS 350) which ended up being her favorite class. “The class taught me how to handle different situations, especially with teenagers,” Paylor said. In fact, that interest in juveniles prompted her to recently apply for positions working with youth. She is also training to be a 911 operator.
“I'm going through the process now of being a 911 operator, which I think would be the most beneficial, because I get to see different aspects of the criminal justice field,” Paylor explained.
Thinking about her last class at UMGC, Criminal Justice Capstone (CCJS 495), Paylor is grateful for the responsiveness of Richard Beltz, adjunct associate professor. “He was really understanding and made my last class less stressful for me personally,” Paylor said.
“I first met Ashleigh during the Spring 2023 semester. I was immediately impressed with her exceptional and strong commitment to further the goals and objectives as a student of UMGC,” Beltz said.
This May as UMGC honors its Class of 2023 graduates around the world, Paylor will gather with her family of five in Hawaii to celebrate her achievement. Paylor plans to work in the criminal justice field, gain hands-on knowledge and experience, and eventually pursue a master’s in forensic investigation. Her lifelong goal is to become a forensic investigator.