School of Business Administration

The heart of helping: Graduate student, father, veteran focuses on analytics career through lens of service

icon of a calendarJune 16, 2021

icon of a pencilBy Emily Morris

Share this story

The heart of helping: Graduate student, father, veteran focuses on analytics career through lens of service

Chris Holman leaning against a railing in a building, looking at the camera.
With his economics degree from OU in hand, Chris Holman is now focused on his next missions: earning his master's in business analytics and being a positive influence on his daughter.

His country, community and child — Chris Holman, ECN ‘21, business analytics graduate student, dedicates his life to caring for others.

Holman, who started his academic career at 30 following his military service, enrolled in Oakland University's new master of science in business analytics (MSBA) program immediately after earning his bachelor’s degree. His nontraditional road encouraged this “focused mindset.”

While in the Army, Holman served his country for 11 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon returning home, he launched a career as a corrections officer in Washtenaw County and began his undergraduate studies.

“The mindset with the Army is that when you accept your mission you put that at the forefront,” Holman said. “[Education] was my next priority and that’s where I focused.”

From there, Holman organized what he describes as his cast of supporters, which he believes is essential to growth. Holman’s cast included connections at OU, who helped him visualize how to meld his passion for helping others with his strength and interest in numbers.

“Oakland University is your own little community,” Holman said. “The willingness of the professors to really share their experiences with you from classes to aspirations. They’re very willing to sit down and talk about your experience, expectations and offer advice.”

Propelled by a lifelong “connection with numbers and math,” Holman initially leaned toward finance. An internship interview opened his eyes to people-centered economics, which then led him to business analytics. Through his studies he researches numerical patterns in the economy — instead of individual organizations or companies — to directly help people.

“That’s always been my focus,” Holman said. “When I look at my purpose in life, what I do, I want to see how I improved or made a difference in regular people’s lives.”

With his mission in mind, Holman meticulously balanced full-time work and part-time studies, maintaining a 3.0 GPA to ensure military funding. Eager to accelerate his plan, Holman took a leave of absence in 2019 so he could attend OU full time.

“I left work to focus on my studies and make sure that I got good grades and understood the material… versus trying to juggle school around my work schedule,” Holman said.

His shift to full-time student wasn’t without risk. Now, his financial security relied solely on maintaining his GPA. A new child, global pandemic and divorce added unanticipated complexities.

Holman persevered with his mission. When he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in April, he became the first member of his family to earn a college degree.

He admits it isn’t always easy. But he is moving forward, keeping his daughter in mind each step of the way.

Now, Holman is focused on his next missions: being a positive influence on his daughter, earning his MSBA and putting his education to work as a part-time research assistant with the State of Michigan Occupational Employment Statistics Division.

“As a single parent, I work and attend graduate school,” said Holman. “Juggling it all is definitely an experience, but it’s my experience.”

Share this story