As an aircrew equipment flight chief in the United States Air Force, Master Sgt. Joshua Johnston ensures airmen have the supplies they need for any situation. To contribute to the efficiency of logistics operations in the military, Johnston enrolled in the fully online supply chain management graduate certificate program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business.
“The supply chain management certificate program provided a great foundation and introduction into the realm of continuous process improvement and supply chain management. I chose it because it is one of the best in the nation and I also wanted to use it as a stepping stone to continue with the Master of Science in Supply Chain Management at Nebraska,” said Johnston.
Originally from Chadron, Nebraska, Johnston headed to the University of Nebraska at Kearney after high school. However, after one semester, a greater purpose called out to him.
“I joined the Air Force in May 2007 because I felt the need to serve my country. Back then I didn’t like college and felt like I wasn’t doing enough to help people,” he said. “Both my grandfathers served in World War II in the Army Air Corps. One was a turret gunner and the other was a pilot.”
Johnston later earned his bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies with a concentration in supply chain management at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He decided to continue his education in order to pursue further advancement in the supply chain field and fuel his career in the Air Force.
The fully online programs utilize the Canvas learning management system, so students are able to earn certificate or master’s degrees from anywhere, including Tucson, Arizona, where Johnston currently resides. The flexibility of the program also allowed Johnston to work while completing his certificate.
“I knew I could benefit from the knowledge in the supply chain management certificate program at work in the Air Force,” said Johnston. “The program was very accessible through the online format. Everything flowed smoothly and worked well with basic home internet and my laptop. Canvas is very user friendly, and my professors were very responsive,” he said.
As a full-time working professional, Johnston appreciated the opportunity to apply the concepts and tools learned in his courses like Supply Chain Management Strategies (GRBA 815) and Managing Logistics in the Supply Chain (SCMA 844) in real time. The information acquired also helped improve processes for his team.
“I took my new knowledge and experience to review and change processes and make them more efficient. We re-organized our parachute shop and saved valuable man-hours by cutting down unnecessary steps,” he said.
After earning his certificate, Johnston rolled his course credits into the Master of Science in Supply Chain Management program at the College of Business. He knew earning a master's degree would further benefit his career.
Jennifer Ryan, department chair and professor of supply chain management and analytics and Van Horne Family Endowed Chair, underlined how the pandemic highlighted the importance of supply chains and how the Nebraska program can help prepare students to build and strengthen supply chains of the future.
“The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically shows how critical the supply chain is in all aspects of business, health care, government and manufacturing. The U.S. military is no different and, in fact, has one of the world's largest and most complex supply chains. Our online certificate and master’s degree prepares students to make data-driven decisions to manage and improve complex, large scale supply chains in a dynamic and data driven environment,” she said.
After completing extensive parachuting training this summer, Johnston plans to put what he learns in his master’s degree to work. Though his college education didn’t start at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Johnston said he eventually landed there.
“Growing up in western Nebraska, it was always a goal to go to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln,” he said. “I always wanted to graduate as a Husker and if things go accordingly to plan, I will attend commencement in Lincoln in 2022 or 2023, depending on what’s happening in the world.”
To learn more about graduate certificate programs at the College of Business, visit: https://business.unl.edu/certificates.