John Walkowiak

Excelsior College

Shift Manager, Entergy, James A. Fitzpatick Nuclear Power Plant

After six years in the nuclear Navy, John began a career at Entergy’s James A. Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant that has spanned almost a quarter of a century.  He began as an Operator, and worked his way up to Reactor Operator, Control Room Supervisor, and his current role as Shift Manager. He’d always wanted to earn his degree, but the opportunity was just never right.  John noted, “I was on a submarine a lot in the Navy, which wasn’t conducive to earning my degree.  Then, for a lot of my early years at the plant, I was constantly in class or trainings.  Now that I’m in my current position, I had the opportunity to finally finish it.”


John learned about Excelsior College’s online Bachelor of Science in Technology degree when a college representative visited the plant“Excelsior reviewed my Navy experience and my trainings and Senior Reactor Operator (SRO) license I earned at Entergy,” John said.  He added, “Because of all that, I only needed 56 credits to complete my degree.”   John completed his degree in about three years, while working full time.  He also was able to utilize Entergy’s tuition reimbursement benefit to finance his degree completion.


A key factor to John’s success was the structure of the online program: “As a shift worker, an online program was the only way I could have gotten it done.  It gave me the flexibility to do work at 2 in the morning if I needed to.”  He also liked that even though it was an online program, he never felt like he was alone, noting, “There was a lot of dialogue and discussion between you, the instructors and other students, so you never felt like you were out there by yourself.”


John encourages others thinking about completing their degree to take the plunge: “I don’t think most people realize how close they are to earning the degree.  If you have your SRO license, you’re already well on your way since you’ve had all the chemistry, all the physics.  It’s a shame more people haven’t taken advantage of it yet.”