On this Father's Day, Justin Bias and his dad, Jim Bias, are celebrating their recent graduation from Saint Leo University. Not only did they earn their master's degrees, but they did it together. For them, this experience, "was a rare opportunity that we didn't want to pass up."
"We're proud of these accomplishments and overjoyed at being able to share this experience together," Jim said.
On May 22, the Biases crossed the stage at the Florida State Fairgrounds as their degrees were conferred. Jim earned a Master of Science in cybersecurity while Justin earned a Master of Business Administration with a specialty in health care management. And cheering them on was another Bias—Dr. Sheri Bias, associate professor of human resource management, and mom to Justin and wife of Jim.
While the Biases live in Virginia, they made the trip to Florida for the Saturday morning ceremony at which Tapia College of Business master's degrees were awarded.
Now Jim is a triple Saint Leo graduate as he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer information systems in 2007, his MBA in 2009, and now a master's in cybersecurity. He also was selected as Saint Leo's student speaker at his undergraduate commencement ceremony in Virginia. His thoughts about education haven't changed over the years.
"The message at the commencement was about how pursuing a college degree is about endurance and being able to bring goals to fruition," he said. "Today, the message would be similar as I still feel that setting goals and fulfilling them is important."
Justin said both parents encouraged him to pursue a graduate degree. "My parents have showed me the value of education and that is something no one can take away from you," he said.
"Education is not a tangible thing, but it IS permanent," Justin continued. "It means being competitive in the workforce, as well! Having graduated a year early from [the College of] William & Mary undergrad, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, pursuing this graduate degree afforded me the opportunity to continue my studies until I can begin the next phase of my career pursuits."
And did the father-son duo "egg" each on during their graduate studies? "Not really," Jim said. "We were in separate programs so it really wasn't a competition so much."
As for Dr. Sheri Bias, she was there to support them. "I provided encouragement and showed what continuing education could mean as far as furthering themselves personally and professionally," she said.
And she motivated the guys in her life. "With all of the education and various degrees that she has, she was very inspirational to us," Jim said. "She exhibits a true passion for education and learning, which is reflected in her giving back to the Saint Leo community as an instructor."
Career advancement is what led the Biases to study at Saint Leo. Jim wanted the master's in cybersecurity to increase his marketability and enhance his career opportunities. Justin was interested in business and knew an MBA would allow for enhanced opportunities in his career field.
"The master's in cybersecurity is directly related to Jim's current career field," Sheri said. "Justin anticipates pursuing additional education in mental health counseling with a goal of eventually opening his own practice, which is where the MBA will be beneficial."
The Biases say, "we are a Saint Leo family," and they enjoyed the flexibility offered by online classes and 8-week terms. "This allowed us to complete the degree much quicker than going through a traditional graduate-degree program," Jim said.
"But I definitely missed the interpersonal interactions from the classroom environment," Justin said. "Online can have challenges from technology, but is also an effective way to complete the degree."
For Sheri, having her husband and son graduate together from the university at which she teaches, was a joy.
"I am so proud of both of them," she said. "This is a monumental day for our family. And we could not have done this without the continued support of our Saint Leo family."