In 2010, 20-year-old Michael Yglesias’ made a decision that would alter the course of his life forever.
“I was working full-time at Panera Bread and going to community college part-time, but I didn’t have a car and would frequently miss busses to school because I wouldn’t get out of work on time,” he recalled. “I needed that job and since the U.S. was in the middle of a recession, I couldn’t afford to say anything that could cause me to lose my only source of income.”
Yglesias felt he had few alternatives so he (and a friend in a similar situation) decided to join the U.S. Army. After speaking with several Army recruiters, they approached Yglesias’ cousin who was a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton for advice. His cousin advised the two of them to join the Coast Guard, which they did. “It was the right solution for both of us and one of the most impactful decisions I’ve ever made,” reported Yglesias.
While serving his country in the Coast Guard, Yglesias made the decision to return to school to earn his degree. The way he settled on his academic major was purely by chance. “When I found out the Coast Guard was initiating a business process for re-engineering accounting audits, I got curious and started to research it,” he said. “The research led me to believe I had skills compatible with those of an accountant and when I started taking accounting classes in community college, I realized this was the correct major for me.”
After earning his associates degree from a San Diego community college, Yglesias chose to continue his education at San Diego State’s Charles W. Lamden School of Accountancy. It was an easy decision. “No one in my family has a 4-year degree and from a young age, I was able to see the limitations that were imposed by a lack of education,” said the Redlands, California native. “I didn’t want to be limited in the same way as my parents, so completing a degree was always in my long term plans.”
But earning that degree has been no easy task. Yglesias currently works from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Coast Guard Sector San Diego and then comes to the SDSU campus from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. to attend classes. In spite of his extremely busy schedule, Yglesias sees this as a benefit. “It’s a pretty tough balancing act, but it’s actually been a blessing because it doesn’t allow me to procrastinate,” he said. “If I didn’t work and go to school, I don’t think that I would have been this successful.”
In fact, he’s been so successful, he’s taking his goal of earning a “4-year degree” one step further. Yglesias just earned enough credit for his bachelor’s degree at SDSU and will complete his master’s degree with the Lamden school’s BSBA/MS Accountancy program (BMACC program) which will give him the required 150 educational credits needed to sit for the California state CPA exam.
But he’s not waiting to get his master’s degree, before he makes his next career move. “I am applying for several Coast Guard Officer programs this year and after viewing the statistics over the past several years, I am a strong candidate for the program,” said Yglesias. “If I get selected I plan to use what I learned in my degree program to help strengthen the Coast Guard’s internal controls so that we can become audit compliant. In the long term, I want to continue my education and learn more about cyber security defense and protecting our country.”