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Vallerie Childers: From the Military to Advancing Education

Vallerie Childers: From the Military to Advancing Education

Last Updated August 29, 2023

It’s not always easy to identify roads of opportunity when thinking about going back to school and continuing your education, but that’s not the case with Vallerie Childers, a lifelong learner. From her start as a logistics officer in the United States Army who was charged with forecasting and planning critical resupply for forward postured troops, Vallerie had developed a plan to help advance her career and life post-military by leveraging the digital tools of education afforded to her. 

“As an Operational Excellence and Continuous Improvement practitioner within an organization that has very few certified professionals, I knew this was the perfect opportunity for me to utilize my Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits to enhance my competitive edge by utilizing tools and methods that not many within my organization were currently using.” 

Vallerie recognized Villanova University as the place to go to for continuing her education thanks to the certification exam opportunities and the work-life balance that was established to ensure she achieved her academic goals and ambitions. 

“I chose Villanova because they’re a supporter of me, a person who works full-time, has a family, served our nation, and wants to advance their career. The course structure, homework, [online] classroom, instructors and overall content was exactly what I felt I needed to earn my certifications while working full-time and maintaining my overall work, life and school balance,” she said.  

Never Stopping, Always Improving 

Coming from a military background, the idea of a heightened work ethic was not a foreign concept for Vallerie, and it showed through her academic journey and achievements. She earned a Lean Six Sigma Sensei Certification in 2020, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certification in 2021, and Professional Certification in Agile and Scrum in 2022. She also completed the Certificate in Business Process Management program in July 2022 and most recently completed the Project Management Capstone course in February 2023. She used the Capstone course as a stepping-stone to prepare for the PMP certification exam through the Project Management Institute.     

“I am most intrigued by the fact that there are so many ways to utilize project critical tools that very rarely will you find that selecting one tool over another will cause project instability,” she says. “Lean tools can be incorporated within an Agile project and traditional waterfall tools can be incorporated within a Kaizen [event]. I really enjoy the flexibility!” 

Vallerie has already begun to incorporate the skills and knowledge she’s learned into her career as well.  

“Currently working in the Operational Excellence field, I began applying the Lean Six Sigma skills I’d learned immediately. Within the pharmaceutical Contract Development Manufacturing Organization, endless opportunities exist to reduce changeover downtime, improve right first time (RFT), study and improve cycle time, takt time, 5S, SMED, etc. Through my facilitated Kaizen events, I routinely incorporate decision making tools to enhance the project team’s ability to identify waste within the respective process, methods for error-proofing potential future occurrences and a robust sustainment plan to maintain our wins.” 

A Helping Hand 

Many individuals who choose to continue their education later in life can find themselves in need of guidance to navigate an online classroom environment that has changed since they were last in school. Vallerie had similar experiences at the start of her journey, but Villanova was able to offer a helping hand in guiding her towards her goals. 

“The only challenge I faced as an online student was maintaining the discipline needed to stay on top of my course work while juggling work and family. I earned my undergrad in 2008 and began taking courses at Villanova in 2020 – it had been 12 years since I had been a proper student.”  

“I really appreciated how easy it was to navigate through the online classroom especially since this is my first time taking online courses. I didn’t know it was possible, but Villanova makes learning easy and fun!” 

A Lasting Impact 

Many veterans credit the comradery they experience during military life as one of the most important aspects of their time in the service. Vallerie’s Villanova experience echoes that sentiment when it comes to the faculty that made a positive difference in her life. For the first time in her adult life, Vallerie found an institution she believes employs “only the very best” and continues to communicate regularly with some of her previous instructors. 

Tina Agustiady and Ed Hayes are two instructors who really had a lasting positive impact on me during my time in their respective classrooms. Tina and Ed are incredible Lean Six Sigma practitioners who possess such a wealth of knowledge, know-how and practical application. They are an open book, their passion for the practice is undeniable – their collective influence really helped me understand more about my current field.” 

Vallerie also acknowledged her student success coach at Bisk – the online learning management partner with Villanova. “My representative for the past three years has been incredible. During my first phone call, I immediately felt accepted, important and valued. [My representative was] so well-versed in all the course offerings and was able to share insights about each course, which really helped me understand the course that best meet my needs.” 

Vallerie’s story is one of the reminders of the possibilities of career change through advancing education. Attaining the credentials needed to pursue further career opportunities was a goal throughout her academic journey, and she has seen its impact firsthand.  

“I have earned three professional certifications and am preparing for my fourth certification exam. My certifications and skills have transformed my resume and I soon became the employment candidate who was now receiving two to three job offers at a time rather than the familiar sitting on the sidelines hoping my chance for advancement will soon come,” she said.  

“I recently accepted a job offer in August 2022 as a Senior Specialist, Global Supply Chain Operational Excellence within Biopharma CDMO which was accompanied by a 24.63% salary increase – this wouldn’t have been possible without Villanova University.” 

When asked what practical advice she would give to prospective Villanova online students, it was a simple rebuttal: “What do you have to lose? The most valuable personal benefit of earning my education is experiencing so many doors of opportunity open right before my eyes and the fact that I know wouldn’t be available to me otherwise.”

 GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at 

Purported salary increases and job position career advancements mentioned in this article are entirely the accomplishments of the independent student mentioned and are not at all guarantees from Villanova University.