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With Purdue Global’s support of military students, I now have the confidence to earn multiple degrees

Robert’s associate degree in criminal justice helped move him forward by opening new job opportunities and giving him the confidence to pursue another degree. (Purdue University photo/Rebecca Robinos)

After trying two other online schools, I finally found what I needed with Purdue Global

As an active-duty service member, Robert chose Purdue Global for its flexible, online military degree programs. He’s sharing his story as a first-generation graduate who now has the confidence to move forward.  

I first joined the military because I wanted to become a cop. My parents had been in and out of the system, so I wanted to go back home and be the difference, be the cop who gave people a chance to do better. I joined the military at 18 and became a military police officer. My time as an MP, including a few deployments, helped me realize I wanted to become a detective. But at first, I didn’t want to go to college. After COVID-19, I was in Korea for about 17 months. When I came back, I realized I didn’t want to stay in the military forever. I looked at my options, and I knew no one would want to hire me unless I had a degree.  

I ended up trying two other online colleges, but they weren’t very military- friendly, and the professors didn’t help guide you. When you’re doing online school, sometimes you need guidance. That’s when I had a fellow service member friend tell me that Purdue Global was military-friendly. At those other colleges, when I had a field exercise coming up and I wouldn’t be able to log in that week, they would say I’d have to do it or take a deduction. But with Purdue Global, they let me do it as needed; all I had to do was email the professor. I enrolled in February and finished my associate degree by June that same year. 

My associate degree has opened a lot of job opportunities for me and made me understand that college wasn’t as unattainable as I thought it was.

Robert CaldwelL
AAS Criminal Justice ’23 / Purdue Global

I chose to study criminal justice at Purdue Global because my initial goal was to become a detective. I liked how a lot of the people in criminal justice had a tie to the military, and in my classes, about half of the people were in the military. I was even in classes with people I had served with. So during discussions it was pretty seamless; I could easily have a discussion with someone I had known once before. There was definitely a feeling of camaraderie.   

My associate degree has opened a lot of job opportunities for me and made me understand that college wasn’t as unattainable as I thought it was. At this point I want to finish my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. It’s right there; I’m only six classes away. Afterward, I actually want to do something in the health care field, maybe sports medicine or nursing. I want to do something where I can help people. Going into the health care field means a lot of school, and I wasn’t sure I really wanted to do it at first. It can be really hard, and I don’t like to fail. But since starting at Purdue Global, I found out how manageable it is for me, even while working. I know I can go back and earn my degree in health care if I want and be just fine.

I’m the first person in all generations of my family to graduate from college. From where I came from to graduating college, it’s a really cool thing. 

Robert Caldwell at graduation with diploma

I’m the first person in all generations of my family to graduate from college. From where I came from to graduating college, it’s a really cool thing.

Robert Caldwell AAS Criminal Justice ’23 / Purdue Global

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