Three alumni share how to become a leader, how lifelong learning is essential to your growth, and how your commitments can inspire your team and lead to new opportunities.

As told to Camille LeFevre
August 2013

Dr. Xavier Bruce ’11

Dr. Xavier Bruce. Illustration credit: Andy Ward.

PROGRAM: Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

FIRST JOB: Stocker at a grocery store

CURRENT JOB: Deputy chief, strategic planning and transformation, 711th Human Performance Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio

“Everyone has a gremlin, or inner critic, who whispers, ‘You are not good/smart/strong enough.’ What does your gremlin whisper? How is it keeping you from achieving your definition of success? Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.’ The first steps are to acknowledge, integrate, and redirect your gremlin. My gremlin helped me earn my doctorate and develop a unique leadership style. As an introvert living in an extroverted world, I’m able to positively influence people to accomplish things that they never previously considered.”

Robbin Odom ’11

Robbin Odom. Illustration credit: Andy Ward.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

FIRST JOB: Unit clerk at a hospital

CURRENT JOB: Chief nursing officer, Women & Children’s Hospital, Lake Charles, La.

“I recently read a quote that resonates with me: ‘A leader’s influence affects people’s lives professionally and personally, and where that influence ends no one can say.’ Walden enabled me to develop into a more mature leader. I realized that most of what I do and say affects someone, somewhere, and could have far reaching effects. At Walden, I also gained a new appreciation for evidence-based practice. Whether the information comes from staff input, patient perspectives, or academic articles, evidence-based methodologies and outcomes offer invaluable perspectives that improve staff effectiveness and the patient experience. Presenting them with evidence of why we are changing a process helps them understand the rationale and continue to follow it.”

Dr. Gayle D. Jones ’09

Dr. Gayle D. Jones. Illustration credit: Andy Ward.

PhD in Public Health

FIRST JOB: Cashier at a fast food restaurant

CURRENT JOB: Director of the Office of Child Health, Georgia Department of Public Health

“‘It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself,’ said Eleanor Roosevelt. If I ask staff to stay late or come in early, participate in weekend events, or work on something from home—no matter how big or small the request—then I, too, commit to the same things. Wherever you are on your path, understand that at times you’ll be asked to do things you’ve never done before that may be out of your area of expertise. Whatever the task is, do it and do it well. Don’t let an opportunity pass because you didn’t recognize it. Even for leaders, learning never stops.”

Nominate your colleagues for coverage in the next “Leading by Example” article by sending details to

Man researching online education on laptop
Request Information
Request Information
Please use our International Form if you live outside of the the U.S.
Please use our Domestic Form if you live in the U.S.
*Required Field
Academic Interests
Contact Information
Invalid email address
Please provide a valid phone number
Please provide a valid zipcode
United States
Additional Information

By submitting this form, I understand and agree that Walden University may contact me via email, text, telephone, and prerecorded message regarding furthering my education and that calls may be generated using automated technology. You may opt out at any time. Please view our privacy policy or contact us for more details.