A career in the military was carved into Jessie Acton’s future at a young age. It was a destiny forged by family tradition, and an Acton was ready to follow it.
“I wanted to do something bigger than myself and help out,” Acton said. “I chose the military because my uncles and cousins were all in the military, most of them also military police officers.”
At just 17, Acton dropped out of high school to get his GED and attend military school. From there, at 17 years and eight months, he enlisted in the US Army.
“As soon as you’re cleared,” Acton said. “I went to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for my Basic and AIT [Advanced Individual Training], became a military police officer. Then I went to Fort Bliss, Texas for a few years and deployed to Fort Bliss overseas.
Acton served for nearly three years, touring Iraq for nine months in 2010-2011.
“I’m very grateful for the experiences I had in the military,” Acton said. “Having that broader view of the world, I think, has been really helpful. Figuring out those little things I might come across that are bothersome is by no means as bothersome as some of the other things I’ve had to do.
After leaving the military, Acton says he felt lost, not knowing where his next steps would take him. Jumping from program to program at different schools in the region, he says nothing gave him the same sense of fulfillment he felt serving his country.
“The transition from military to student life was relatively difficult,” Acton said. “I walked out and didn’t really have a direction or a goal, so I just kept going on different programs and none of them felt right to me.”
Then, two years ago, Acton went through Keizer University in New Port Richey. He remembers walking into the school to find out more about its programs, expecting to receive an information brochure. Instead, he found a community.
“Keiser was the only school that seemed really motivated to have me as a student,” Acton said. “When I walk in the staff greet me by name, they know who I am and ask how I was. It’s much more of an intimate experience, I’m not just a number.
Acton is enrolled in the Associate of Science program in the Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at KU New Port Richey. The program trains future sonographers in diagnostic techniques and how to help physicians gather the information needed for diagnostic decisions.
The Army veteran says the program gave him the purpose he was looking for.
“I wanted to serve the community in a different way now that I’m no longer a service member,” Acton said. “I didn’t feel as useful in those careers to the community at large as I do now with the DMS program…I actually feel like I’m on the right track now.”
Acton hopes to work as a sonographer after graduating and eventually return to school to become a physician assistant.
Keizer University is a private, independent, nonprofit university serving nearly 20,000 students at 21 Florida campuses, online, and at two international locations. Co-founded in 1977 by Chancellor Arthur Keiser, Ph.D., and Evelyn Keiser, Keiser University currently offers more than 100 degrees ranging from associates to doctoral degrees. Keiser University is a designated Hispanic-serving institution, a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and was ranked #5 in the United States in social mobility by US News And World Report in 2022.