Combining learning experiences

When Shadrack Roberts presented his dissertation topic recently to the doctoral review board at Capitol College in Laurel, Md., the response was overwhelming, and several faculty members jumped at the chance to chair the project. Roberts, a Maquoketa, Iowa, native and former U.S. Army soldier, will most likely be one of the foremost published experts on what a world of augmented reality may mean for officials making real-time decisions based on a steady stream of data. For instance, Brazilian police officers will use a Google Glass-type technology to scan the crowd at the World Cup in 2014 utilizing facial recognition to identify possible persons of interest. Roberts’s study will encompass the topics of the fallacy of privacy today and how officials will ensure that the information being received is in fact trustworthy and actionable.

Roberts and his wife, Farrah, live in Bettendorf, Iowa. After living abroad for a number of years, the couple wanted to be close to their family and ensure that their 3-year-old son, Lennon, would grow up near his grandparents. Roberts is the Chief Privacy & Cyber official at Army Sustainment Command in Rock Island, Ill., and a 2009 Upper Iowa University alumnus with a degree in public administration.

After high school, Roberts spent a semester at what is now called Viterbo University in LaCrosse, Wis. He then transferred to a school in Denver, Colo., but soon realized that he really wasn’t ready for college. He wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do, but he knew he wanted to travel. In 1996, Roberts enlisted in the Army. He was considered an “A-1 recruit” as a result of how well he scored on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test. Out of the 300 and some students that took the test that day in Denver, Roberts placed at the top of the heap. He was highly recruited. Told he could name his post, he responded, “Just give me the longest tech school you have.”

Roberts chose satellite communications as his Army “job” and attended training at Fort Gordon, Ga. He was sent to Germany for six months and then assigned to a base in Bosnia for 355 days from 1997-1998. Roberts was back in the United States for one year before his contract with the Army was up. Originally, his commitment was supposed to be for six years, but because of a Y2K glitch, the Army could not extend contracts beyond the year 2000.

Given his skill set, Roberts had no trouble finding a job after he was discharged. He went to work in the private sector for WorldCom, Sprint and Qwest when Internet use was growing and the fiber optic backbone was being laid across the United States and beyond.

Twelve years ago, Roberts jumped at the opportunity to work for the U.S. government. He again had posts in Germany, and Japan. It was in Germany, however, that he began thinking about finally finishing his bachelor’s degree. Being a native Iowan, he immediately recognized Upper Iowa University and knew about its residential Fayette campus. “It was a physical school and not an online diploma-mill,” said Roberts. “That was a big plus for me. Upper Iowa was actually the most competitively priced. It also had the most flexibility in transferring credits I had already earned.”

Roberts completed his public administration degree through Upper Iowa’s online program and was able to stick with classes despite moving from Germany to Detroit, Mich., to Japan and back to Germany.

He recently completed a master’s of science in global information leader from National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., and also received a scholarship from the National Security Agency and Department of Defense to attend Capitol College where he is embarking on his doctoral program in Information Assurance (IA).

“UIU provided a clear path to finish something that I had started years before, since my undergraduate degree was literally 15 years in the making,” Roberts said. “What I have found is that adult students are often much more serious about learning having tasted a bit of the experience only found in the working world. UIU, I believe, welcomed that experience, which launched me on to greater things and educational pursuits than I might have imagined otherwise.”

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