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My online degree from Purdue Global brings me closer to my lifelong goal.

As both a first-generation military service member and first-generation college graduate, Cliford feels proud and accomplished holding his degree in criminal justice. (Purdue University photo/Rebecca Robiños)

I’m a proud military service member and first-generation college graduate.

From Guam to the U.S. Army, Cliford has an incredible story. He’s sharing his journey to the Purdue Global degree that is bringing him one step closer to his dream. 

I was born and raised in the Philippines. My family was poor; we couldn’t afford anything, but then my life changed when my family moved to Guam. We had a lot more opportunities. And ever since I was in elementary school there, I’ve wanted to become a police officer. I grew up in an environment where violence is the only solution to fix a problem; domestic violence was considered a family matter, and bullying was acceptable. To prevent other people from experiencing these internal threats, regardless of your economic background, is to gain authority to handle it. My parents couldn’t afford for me to go to college, so I found a route for me by joining the Army in 2019. I also joined because I wanted to challenge myself and become a role model to my family. My whole family went straight into construction jobs, so I’m first-generation military.    

I knew I wanted a military-friendly college that offered courses that would help me become a successful police officer. I was stunned when I found Purdue Global because all the courses it offered would benefit me a lot in the future. Purdue Global was actually recommended to me by my supervisors who had also attended, so I went ahead and checked it out. I noticed on the website that it was part of one of the most innovative universities, Purdue, and I really liked that, so I applied.

While earning my associate degree in criminal justice, I was able to learn what to do as an officer. I learned the consequences of violating rights and the proper procedures of policing, which I wouldn’t have known without my degree. Also, I know that with my degree, I’m more likely to get hired. As a military student, I was provided with an academic advisor with expertise in the military lifestyle, and there are even professors with military backgrounds. I was given multiple chances of extended deadlines due to ongoing missions that interfered with completing my modules. And as a first-generation student, I was able to take virtual seminars and receive tips and guidance on becoming a successful student.

I was stunned when I found Purdue Global because all of the courses it offered would benefit me a lot in the future compared to my previous college.

Cliford Manuel
AAS Criminal Justice ’23 / Purdue Global

I’ve been through a lot, and by graduating I feel so accomplished. My family is very happy for my upcoming commencement. Recently, I video-chatted with them, and they were so happy. They were all clapping for me as they congratulated me, so that felt great. Having this degree and knowing that my family is so proud of me — it feels amazing.  

In the future as a police officer, I hope to build trust and a strong relationship with the community. I want them to feel that their police officers are approachable and not the type of professional to be scared of. I’m not exactly sure what’s next for me, but I do hope to return to school for my bachelor’s and eventually become an officer in Arizona or California.  

Finishing this journey as a first-gen military service member and then the first person in my family to graduate college feels so great. 

Clifford Manuel shaking hands at graduation ceremony.

I’ve been through a lot, and by graduating I feel so accomplished. Finishing this journey as a first-gen military service member and then the first person in my family to graduate college feels so great.

Cliford Manuel AAS Criminal Justice ’23 / Purdue Global

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