By Pamme Boutselis
Communication is a key component of Staff Sgt. Lauren Goodhue’s responsibilities in the U.S. Air Force. So it’s no surprise that good communication played an integral role in earning her online Master of Business Administration at Southern New Hampshire University.
Goodhue, who travels 220 days a year with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds with another airman, serves as a client systems technician/administrator, overseeing 130 team members and ensuring that each has the ability to communicate — via laptop, iPhone, desktop, printer and other devices — at all times. They also are responsible for 24/7 communication operations at their hangar.
“Administration, records management, customer service, database administration, personal wireless communication systems, hardware configuration and telephones are a few of the roles I manage on the team,” said Goodhue.
Couple that with the workload required in SNHU’s online MBA program, and you’ve got one busy woman. That’s where good communication comes in — and powerful organizational skills. With a hectic travel schedule, Goodhue sometimes faced challenges connecting to hotel Wi-Fi or simply completing coursework on the road.
“It could prove to be a bit of a juggling act, but doable,” she said. “I always kept an open dialogue with my advisor and professors if I faced challenges or needed extra time for an assignment on a rare occasion.”
For Goodhue, SNHU’s support of its military student population was vital. “Having a school that is dedicated to the military has been paramount in my success and as an active-duty airman,” she said. “SNHU’s faculty and advisors have a keen understanding of the military student, like myself.”
Though her schedule was hectic, often requiring more than 40 hours a week for her role with the Thunderbirds and upward of 15 to 20 hours each week for coursework, Goodhue adhered to the same organizational skills she employs in her work.
“I kept a list of to-dos each week and would schedule out time to do them,” she said. “I use the same technique in my job when prioritizing my time.”
Goodhue has been in the Air Force since 2009 and decided to pursue a military career after studying public administration and governmental relations in college.
“I knew I wanted to serve my country and be of public service,” she said. “I also realized that with the educational benefits earned by serving, I could pursue grad school with limited or no student loan debt.”
Her early training in the Air Force prepared her as a cyber-warrior and computer and technical technician.
“The experience was intense, and a lot of information was thrown at me over a short period of time,” said Goodhue. “However, it was wonderful as well. It was me and 10 other guys in a class together for five months, cheering each other on as we learned new skills, techniques and the ability to become better airmen each day.”
There was a lot to learn in her first duty station, but in the spring of 2013, she began researching schools to pursue her MBA. Then she found SNHU. “I was immediately impressed with the care I received even before applying,” said Goodhue. “I felt it was a good fit for me and applied.”
For Goodhue, the main difference between being in the military, as opposed to the civilian sector, while pursuing an MBA, is that the mission always had to come first.
“Managing my time to meet the demands of both is something that at times was stressful, but able to be done,” she said. She applied lessons learned in her online MBA to the work she does in her service as an airman — from management, leadership, information systems management and database management to forming community with classmates.
What’s next for Goodhue? While she’s yet to decide if she will stay in the military on active duty, she does have a few things she is considering pursuing within the Air Force — “possibly apply to commission to be an officer or apply for the White House Communications Agency.”
Outside of the military, Goodhue would like to teach at the undergraduate level online while continuing her career in IT, whether on active duty or in the reserves.
“I know that teaching is something I am passionate about,” she said. “In the civilian sector, I see myself in either option, working for a government agency or for an action sports company, like Hurley, GoPro, Oakley, etc., in IT.”
As for the Thunderbirds, Goodhue said that it’s been a great assignment.
“I have the unique opportunity to be an Ambassador in Blue, sharing the stories and legacies of my brothers and sisters in arms — past and present,” she said. “In addition, I get to recruit, retain and reinforce the public confidence in the U.S. Air Force and demonstrate to the public the professional competence of Air Force personnel. I get a chance to meet the public and learn from them every day.”
Learning is especially important to Goodhue, and education is something her family has always valued.
“Education is one thing that can never be taken away from you,” she said. “It allows you to learn new ideas, to grow in areas you already know, to foster community and open doors for better jobs or promotions. To quote Confucius, ‘Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.’”
Goodhue’s mother had the pleasure of presenting her daughter with her MBA in the fall of 2015, when SNHU staff traveled to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to surprise Goodhue with her diploma in the company of her family and teammates.
“To see all my teammates in the room and cheering me on for something I did, it made me so happy,” she said. “To have SNHU come out and want to hear my story in coordination with my team — it’s so special. You really do care about the students, wherever they are.”