Online Student Interview: Military Officer Lt. Patric Klotzbuecher-Cruz

We had the opportunity to interview Lt. Patric Klotzbuecher-Cruz, an online college student who graduated from Drexel University Online’s MBA program in the Winter 2011/2012 term. A man of many definitions, he also is a military officer who completed his degree while serving in the armed forces. Check out the latest online student interview, the perils and success strategies of online education, and how Patric was able to juggle it all…

What is your current occupation?

I am a Biomedical Engineering Officer. My current assignment is with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Division of Foreign Field Investigations as a Senior Regulatory Operations Officer/Drug Specialist. Day-to-day I conduct inspections of pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers overseas for compliance with legal requirements, regulatory applications, and current good manufacturing/clinical/laboratory practices. Additionally, as an officer, I am charged with rigorous training and deployment in support of a variety of health & medical response, public health outreach, and civil affairs missions.

What was your college major? Do you plan on going back to pursue more higher education?

I studied Biomedical Engineering and Biomathematics at Rutgers University, then went on to complete my MBA at Drexel University‘s Lebow College of Business. I don’t ever plan to stop learning, but unfortunately, most formal education in highly technical fields require studies on campus. There are a few programs I am interested in, so if my professional and personal circumstances allow it, then I may continue.

What was the biggest surprise about pursuing an online degree? 

I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting the volume of work that was required. You often hear warnings that online programs are no less intense than classes on campus. What generally goes understated is that the online student must master the same body of knowledge independently. To do so sometimes requires far more attention, reading, and work than sitting in a lecture hall.

Were you able to connect with other students while taking online classes at Drexel University Online?

Drexel’s MBA Anywhere program is unique in that it is a sort of a hybrid program. It incorporates short in-residence courses/certificate programs at the beginning, middle, and end of the course of study. During these residencies we were afforded the opportunity to meet and work with our fellow cohorts–more or less the same group of students with whom we took each core class throughout the two-year program. It was great to meet the personalities I was routinely interacting with during group projects, gave a lot of insight into each of my fellow students’ working styles, made the cold isolation of an online program far more personable, and made for some great memories with new friends.

What was it like balancing military commitments with college classes?

Have you ever had to strap a 70-pound rucksack to your back and navigate through kilometers of swampland by night…then hunt for a wi-fi signal at your destination to complete and submit a case-study by morning? No? Oh.

Many of us (military personnel) don’t work a traditional 9-to-5, so we don’t have the leisure of coming home to a prepared meal, setting up shop on the couch, and studying for a few hours every evening. It was exhilarating AND exhausting, definitely an exercise in planning and time management, and often a trial of physical and mental perseverance.

How did the armed forces prepare you for college? 

Most of us in-service (and those who have served) are instilled with a great sense of bearing and discipline. It’s a byproduct of our organizational culture and translates into how we generally carry ourselves as servicemembers. We have the ability to perform under pressure or in time-sensitive situations, with great attention to detail, that I feel is uncommon of most traditional students. We assess and manage the “risks” of coursework (ie: assignments, projects, exams) in the same way that we would professionally. And we come to academia seasoned as both team members and leaders.

More military resources for college students…

About Allison Freeland

Allie Freeland is the Editor-in-Chief of CollegeOnline.org. She has been a professional writer for a decade and received her bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Minnesota. She brings a wealth of information about higher education, online degrees, college life, and career advice. Follow her on G+.