Alumni Spotlight: Richard Prather

Richard Prather Earns Three Degrees While Serving His Country

By Cheryl Balassone |   August 2010

Richard Prather , Alumnus

Military careers are known for their many rigorous demands, but imagine how taxing it would be to earn three degrees while moving around the world with a wife and two children and working 60-hour weeks as a Navy paralegal. Richard Prather accomplished all of these things with the flexibility of his UMUC education.

The first person in his blue-collar family to earn a master's degree, Richard is exceptionally skilled at overcoming obstacles. Working as a packer in a plastics company in the early 1990s to earn tuition for school, he decided there had to be a better way to get ahead. Richard joined the Navy and soon learned about UMUC’s flexible, military-friendly online programs. "UMUC had just the program I was looking for. And it was very convenient for me because I was active-duty military and always moving," he says.

Over the years, Richard put his determination to work, completing an impressive quality education at UMUC that began with a solid foundation in legal studies. He went on to pursue management and human resources in his graduate studies, earning certificates in Leadership Management and Foundations of Human Resource Management, and an MS in Management with an emphasis in Human Resource Management, which he completed in 2006. Richard recently enrolled to complete his MBA at UMUC, as well.

Despite stressful 60-hour work weeks as a Navy paralegal, moves to Rhode Island, Italy and Chicago, and the 20-30 hours of weekly studying that left him just three hours of sleep per night for years, Richard kept his eye on the ultimate goal of attaining a quality education. He persevered in order to provide a better life for his children, he says. Today, Richard works as a human resources assistant for Labor Relations and is able to spend well-deserved time with his wife and two daughters. "My family made many sacrifices for me and really didn’t get all of my attention over the years. I owe my success to my wife and children," he says. "My mother also encouraged me to not give up and reminded me often than I had two little girls who were counting on me."

Richard also credits UMUC for his success and points to his interaction with Dr. Alan Sutherland as one of the highlights of his educational experience. "Dr. Sutherland was a very inspiring facilitator and always encouraged his students to strive for more," says Richard. "I once thought that receiving a graduate education was not attainable. But 15 years later, I finally reached my goal. I can only thank the UMUC faculty and my family for making it all possible."