Southeast Online Grad Student Serving as Air Force Program Manager


Military service is a family tradition for Southeast Missouri State University graduate student and U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Jimi Schafer.

“I’ve had many family members who served, including in the Revolutionary War, Mexican Civil War, Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Cold War,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in the Air Force and wanted to become an officer since I was 17.”

Schafer, a native of Oregon City, Oregon, is currently stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, serving as an Air Force Program manager.

Schafer commissioned as an officer in 2016, and his two and half years of service, thus far, has been an eye-opening experience. Being a part of the positive impact the national defense has on his community and country has been a highlight for him, he said.

“In particular, in my rapid acquisition program, I’ve been provided the rare opportunity to increase the survivability and lethality of half of the Air Force’s fighter fleet. Overall, it’s a great privilege to serve and work among dedicated patriots,” Schafer said.

“There are individuals who spent decades in special fields, crafting their abilities to protect our nation and are amazing to work with,” he added.

Honing his own skills is an important aspect of his future success in the military, which prompted Schafer to pursue a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in general management studies through Southeast Online. He says the program provided the flexible, affordable learning platform he needed.

Southeast’s Donald L. Harrison College of Business and Computing is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a hallmark of excellence in business education, and has been earned by less than five percent of the world’s business programs. The Harrison College also holds the Network of International Business Schools accreditation.

“I wanted an MBA to elevate my business acumen and foresight,” he said. “I spent a couple months heavily researching top colleges that met my criteria, including rankings, accreditation and veterans’ services. Southeast kept coming up as my top choice. Southeast has provided an affordable and accredited degree for me to run with.”

He credits Southeast for elevating many of his abilities as a leader.

“Time management, strategy, human resources, quantitative and qualitative analysis, information technology and marketing are just a few areas that I have positively improved because of my MBA courses,” Schafer said. “The lessons learned, especially the complexities and challenges business leaders must tackle directly apply to my work and career. I’m very grateful for Southeast believing in me and giving me the chance to excel.”

Southeast graduate student and U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Jimi Schafer hopes to one day start a business with his wife, Rebecca.

Schafer hopes to apply these skills and knowledge towards his military and personal careers.

“I want to continue to thrive and find new agile and innovative ways to increase our defense and protect our interests at home,” he said. “My overall goal is to become a Program Element Monitor which is a fast-paced job at the Pentagon where you represent the Air Force’s interests to ensure funding is secured from Congress. After that, I would love to become a Material Leader which is the pinnacle of my military acquisition profession.”

After his military service concludes, Schafer said he hopes to return to his hometown.

“I hope to work back near my home and lead a program for a defense corporation like Boeing or work in a retail headquarters such as Costco or Columbia Sportswear,” said Schafer.

Continuing his education will always be an important aspect of anything he decides to do, he said.

“I’d like to seek another master’s degree or my doctorate along with other key credentials such as a project management professional” credential, he said. “Eventually, I’ll look to start my own business with my lovely wife, Rebecca, and run for mayor of Oregon City, one of the greatest places on earth.”