Instructional Leadership, emphasis: K-12 School Leadership (MEd)
Students walking on NAU–Yuma campus

Building a business

Veteran and NAU–Yuma Business Administration student Kacey Cordell hopes to transfer her passion for bodybuilding into opening a gym.

Kacey Cordell is petite. She has a warm smile and is wearing a cute pink jacket. But don’t let appearances fool you. The Business Administration student at NAU–Yuma is intelligent, independent, and ambitious. She is a former Marine deployed to Kuwait and Iraq. And she’s a competitive bodybuilder.

Originally from North Carolina, Cordell joined the Marine Corps right out of high school and was trained as a meteorologist, a skill she applied during both of her deployments. Her final posting was at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma. Wanting to start college right away, Cordell stayed in town and enrolled at Arizona Western College. When she completed her general education requirements there, taking the next step with NAU–Yuma was an easy choice. She found a major that fit her goals and had the support of the Veteran Success Center to guide her and make sure she took full advantage of her military benefits. Now an employee of that office, she’s able to help other military-connected students make the same seamless transition.

Business Administration degree with an emphasis in Management will lay the foundation for her to reach her career goals—goals that have changed as her dedication to bodybuilding has grown.

“My original goal was to go for the FBI,” Cordell says. “I was advised to go for business because the FBI, like anything, is just a big business. But my long-term goal, and what I’m more focused on now, is to own and manage my own gym.”

Her interest in working out began, she says, “when I joined the military, because I was underweight and scrawny and tiny my whole life.” The more she worked out, the more she liked it.

“It started out as just a hobby and became a passion. And then, I was introduced to the bikini bodybuilding world. So I went for it. And I actually ended up placing second on my first show.”

The experience reaffirmed her desire to own her own inclusive gym to serve bodybuilders, powerlifters, and other fitness competitors. But first, she has to learn the ins and outs of owning and running a business.

Her NAU–Yuma courses, she says, are providing the information she’ll need to succeed after she graduates in December 2022. And the small class sizes provided invaluable personal attention from instructors.

"I love the professors here. I love that I'm at a university, but it's small. You have a lot of one-on-one. You get to have the personal interaction."
- Kacey Cordell, Business Administration

“I definitely think I have a solid knowledge base to know how everything works, to know everything that I’m going to need to do, and everything it’s going to encompass,” she says. “And I love the professors here. They’re very, very helpful. I love that I’m at a university, but it’s small. You have a lot of one-on-one. You get to have the personal interaction.”

Navigating the intricacies of the federal Veterans Affairs (VA) bureaucracy was intimidating at first, but the Veteran Services office smoothed the way.

“It seemed really complicated,” she says, “but the advisors, since they’re veteran-specific advisors, are very up to date on all VA benefits. They sit down with you and walk you through everything from applying to school, applying for your benefits, transferring everything, all the stuff that the normal advisors do, plus the VA side. They’re there every step of the way.”

Cordell says the Veteran Success Center is dedicated to supporting veterans in every way possible, making sure they’re connected to all the available services and benefits. “We’re here to help veterans in any way.”