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Student Spotlight: JP Kistler

Family is everything for ACU Online student, James P. Kistler. From evolving his professional career to his current pursuit of finishing his degree, JP’s wife and kids have been the forefront of all he does. So when they encouraged him to go back to school to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Studies, he believed it was the perfect opportunity to lean into their support and finish what he once started. Read how his perseverance is setting him up for future business success and providing the flexibility to navigate work and school, while spending time with those he loves most. 

Exploring his career

Growing up in Abilene, TX, JP was no stranger to Abilene Christian University and enrolled as a freshman following a semester at Texas Tech University. After attending classes for a while, JP transitioned to working full-time to support his family and no longer had the flexibility of being able to attend school simultaneously.  

Since 1995, JP has focused on his career in furniture retail; currently, he manages the kids’ department at Rooms To Go in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Over the years, JP was dedicated to growing his role in the retail industry and aspired to one day fulfill even higher levels of management. He knew that finishing his bachelor’s degree would help him receive the support needed to reach those opportunities down the road. “Finally having my degree will allow me to open up other avenues and sections within my industry that I’ve always contemplated above store management,” he explained. “I would love to get into training people, moving up into a position of buying for the company, and even expand outside of furniture retail.” 

Returning back to school

For years JP explored traditional programs at local universities, but the time commitment and traveling to and from campus proved too big of a strain on his personal schedule. It wasn’t until a little over a year ago that JP found ACU Online and enrolled in a program that not only supported his work-life balance, but provided a community of individuals in similar situations as him, who were all working towards a common goal. With his wife’s encouragement, JP enrolled at ACU Online in December of 2021 to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Studies. With this degree he has been able to fuse his experiences in business and psychology. 

After just a few classes, JP fell in love with the online format at ACU Online and immediately felt the support he needed from  professors and peers alike. “The structure of these programs is perfect for someone who works full time and still wants to spend time with their kids while finishing assignments,” JP reflected. With a new sense of purpose in his life, he’s able to dedicate specific amounts of time to studying, while still being involved in his kids’ lives and creating memories with them—like traveling and watching their sporting events.

Not only has his degree allowed him time to spend with his family, he’s been able to build connections throughout the past year that have positively impacted his experience as a virtual student. “I’ve been able to connect with others on a personal level and have been able to support them in prayer,” he explained. “ACU provides another sense of family and you can’t get that just anywhere. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience that community years ago on campus and now online.” 

Finishing what he started

As JP’s business and psychology courses contribute to opening doors in the future, it has also provided him with additional resources he can currently use in his professional career and personal life. “My psychology classes in particular have allowed me to read others and pick up on cues to connect more easily with them,” he said. “I have made great friends through working in the kid’s department at work and have been able to take care of parents and their kids’ needs.” JP aspires to improve and expand the purchasing side of his company to help bring goods into the store and elevate his career. 

In December 2022, JP will graduate. What he started many years ago, he will have completed in a little over a year. He’s looking forward to connecting in person with his virtual community and meeting their families at graduation. 

 While he thought it was too late for him to earn his degree with the cost, time and personal restraints he had, JP is excited to see what is on the other side of reaching this goal. “Don’t sell yourself short and always finish what you started,” he concluded.

Are you looking to reach your goal of earning a degree? Visit or contact us at 855-219-7300 today.

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