‘Online safety is everything to me and my family’ 

In a minimal black-and-white image, Vukobratovich smiles, wearing glasses and a sweater.

Dan Vukobratovich, MS cybersecurity, finds the parallels between the fast pace of an emergency room and the triage in tech. (Purdue University photo/Kelsey Lefever)

This dad of four is driven to protect his people. So he’s earning his master’s degree in cybersecurity with Purdue Global.

Dan Vukobratovich (MS cybersecurity, Purdue Global) isn’t pursuing his master’s degree in cybersecurity simply because he likes tech.  

It’s because protecting loved ones is something he takes very seriously. In fact, he would tell you his drive to protect his people is what informs every single thing he does. 

He’s always been that way. When he first began to consider career paths as a young adult, he dreamed of a job in medicine. But as a dad of young kids at the time, he could tell right away it wasn’t going to work for his family. So he trained as a volunteer EMT and firefighter. In that role, he started to see how getting paid to work triage was not off the table. 

“Once I got involved in emergency services, it drew my attention to cybersecurity because I realized it was actually a lot like medicine,” Vukobratovich says. “It’s the difference between dealing with the organic side of people and dealing with the nuts and bolts and wires. But the mindset is almost identical. You’re trying to figure out what’s wrong. You’re trying to help someone to safety.” 

And when he decided to earn a master’s degree in cybersecurity management with Purdue Global, his understanding of the possibilities expanded beyond what he knew he could do. He could advance his career while holding steady in the day to day. He could teach a valuable lesson to his kids. And he could use his passion for safety to help other people learn how to protect themselves, too. 

When you have a degree backed by Purdue, it’s a stamp of approval for a lot of people.

Dan Vukobratovich
MS cybersecurity, Purdue Global

Pursuing an online master’s degree in cybersecurity 

His drive to protect his loved ones is ultimately what led him to cybersecurity, but being able to provide in the meantime is what made Purdue Global the right choice for him. The dad of four says flexibility was going to have to be central to his experience as a student — and that’s exactly what he got. 

“Sessions are always after work hours,” he says. “It allows me to provide for my family, take care of the needs of my household. The faculty have been wonderful, but the students have, too. My study groups are really accommodating because we all need that.” 

Vukobratovich works as a senior IT security analyst at Purdue Information Technology in West Lafayette, so the curriculum is directly relevant to his everyday life. As he helps the university evaluate the technology for security vulnerbilities, he’s regularly applying what he learns in class in addition to setting himself up for advancement later on. 

“The class I just finished the term before this one was about network defense and penetration testing. With the upgrades to software at work, we have to actually evaluate everything from a criminal point of view — how can this be compromised, and what is our best defense against those compromises?” he says. “I’m able to take that exact, direct knowledge from class and apply it specifically to what I do.” 

Value for his family 

His family may be his primary motivation, but Vukobratovich is quick to note that their unwavering support also enables him to keep going — in particular, his wife, a full-time cardiac nurse.  

“We’ve been married almost two years now and she’s my hero,” he says. “If she knows I have something big coming up or something I need to get done, she’s there saying, ‘Just go. Do it. I’ve got the kids.’” 

And that’s what powers his capacity to model a valuable lesson for his kids in the meantime. His two daughters are now adults, but his sons — ages 10 and 11 — are at a famously challenging academic moment and being able to watch their dad push through it himself is meaningful.

“I want to expand how much I know, but I also want to set an example for my kids. Education is important. They don’t have a long-term vision right now, but I can show them it gets better,” he says. 

He adds, with a laugh, that his wife’s excitement about what he’s doing is contagious. 

“She’ll bend over backwards and then some to help make sure I can do this successfully,” he says. “She checked in with me about how it’s going. I said, ‘It’s going great.’ She said, ‘Cool. Do you think you want to get your doctorate next?’” 

Her enthusiasm is precious to him, but he thinks he’ll get through the next year or so first before he starts considering the next degree. With everything put together, however, it’s grown his passion into something bigger.  

“I want to spread the knowledge, teach people about it, show them how they can keep themselves safe,” he says. 

An opportunity to keep his family safe and other families, too 

Looking ahead, Vukobratovich is enjoying being able to think bigger.  

“My focus is on critical infrastructure protection,” he explains. “Critical infrastructure is the underlying working fields that run our whole nation by running our local communities like the police department, the fire department, the military. But it also affects other things like finance, medical, transportation, logistics. Most people don’t realize how devastating an attack on these things can be. That’s why we’re seeing cyberattacks against electric companies, water companies, and I get to help keep those utilities safe.” 

In a minimal black-and-white image, Vukobratovich smiles, wearing glasses and a sweater.

I want to spread the knowledge, teach people about (online safety), show them how they can keep themselves safe.

Dan Vukobratovich  MS cybersecurity, Purdue Global

And in the age of AI, that unknown weighs heavy on a nervous public. Vukobratovich’s degree and skills allow him to stand in the gap. 

“For a while, I taught some public classes on this material,” he says. “And I’d really like to do more of that when I graduate. I’d like to show people they can be safe online and that keeping their households and businesses safe may be easier than people think.” 

In fact, he encourages those who are interested in educating others in cybersafety to consider Purdue Global. He says this is a field — even more so than most — where a respected name matters. 

“People are worried right now. When they go to someone to learn how to keep themselves and their families safe, they want to know they can trust the person who’s teaching them. When you have a degree backed by Purdue, it’s a stamp of approval for a lot of people. They know the knowledge this educator is sharing is going to be accurate because they got their information from a renowned university,” he says. 

In the meantime, what this degree is doing for him in the here and now is huge. 

“Having the master’s degree can help me advance further within the university and support critical infrastructure,” he says. “But it also helps me work with leadership to better understand how IT and IT security can help the overall environment at Purdue.” 

From here, he has nothing but inspiration and hope for the future. Vukobratovich has a vision that includes being published for his work in cybersecurity and infrastructure protection. He wants to present at a cybersecurity conference. But the possibilities are infinite.  

“I’m proud of myself for discovering who I am, reinventing myself and continuing to pursue my education successfully,” he says. “A lot of men at some point need to evaluate — where am I, where’s my family at in life? — and find where that opportunity is. Your family is the one thing you really can’t replace.”