"I want to better myself to be an example to my son in real time and hopefully inspire him later to do something similar."
After graduating high school in Richmond in 1993, Jason Woodle studied briefly to be a nurse at Virginia Commonwealth University, then worked as a financial analyst at a large corporation and traveled the country as a point person for the corporation, opening new business locations.
But something was missing: a college degree. “I was watching people being promoted around me and it was frustrating,” Woodle says. That, a new marriage, and the prospect of having children also pushed him to pursue a college degree. “The thought of having children and not being able to provide to the level that I’d like to provide was definitely an obstacle that I wanted to overcome.”
Woodle’s wife, who graduated from UVa with a degree in foreign affairs, learned about the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies. Woodle decided he wanted to enroll and created a plan to get in. He calls going back to school College, Round Two. “It’s because it is really a second opportunity for me,” he says. “When I moved to Charlottesville, I enrolled in Piedmont Virginia Community College. Coming out of that environment, where I was accustomed to all ‘A’s’ for two years of transfer credits, adjusting to the level of instruction at UVa was a bit intimidating. But I was really ready to go and just kind of took off.”
After his son Connor was born, Woodle decided to study full time and be a stay-at-home dad. Having worked in a business environment and being held to certain standards, Woodle structured and organized his educational goals with his personal ones. With school in particular, he really wanted to walk out of UVa with 4.0 (he graduated with a 3.99). He found that setting goals was one of the most useful tactics to succeed. “I also wanted to prove to myself and others that I could achieve these goals,” he says.
As a humanities major in BIS, Woodle decided to focus on an area that is very personal to him, and it is art. His father, a retired CPA, is also a phenomenal painter, as was his grandmother and aunt. For Woodle, he dabbles in a variety of different mediums and loves art history. His Capstone Project was based on how 18th-Century colonial Americans used visual media to promote nationalism.
Woodle credits his three-year old son as the guiding motivator behind all of this, including completing his degree is just 2.5 years. “Everything that I’ve done, absolutely everything is for him,” he says. “Some people go to college because their parents want them to. Some people go because they want a better job. I want to better myself to be an example to my son in real time and hopefully inspire him later to do something similar.”
Today, Woodle serves as the marketing and events manager at James Monroe's Highland.