Southeast Student Completes Master’s Degree While Deployed Overseas


Monte Powell

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Dec. 18, 2014 –Lt. Col. Monte Powell of Joplin, Missouri, will graduate Dec. 20 from Southeast Missouri State University, having completed a Master of Science in criminal justice entirely online.

Powell took online classes while serving overseas as a U.S.  Marine stationed in Bahrain. He is currently stationed in California and will deploy to Central America in the coming months.

“The challenges were very difficult due to continuous combat operations, using classified government computers, and date and time differences,” said Powell. “I had to overcome that.”

Powell says he was able to work through those challenges with prior planning and developing a strong rapport with his instructors.

The online Master of Science program is a cooperative program offered by Southeast and Missouri Southern State University.


Monte Powell, left, will graduate from Southeast Dec. 20 with a Master of Science in criminal justice.

According to Dr. Allen Gathman, associate dean of Online Learning and professor of biology at Southeast, online students require a sense of self-discipline to complete their degrees.

“To find that kind of discipline in a U.S. Marine is no surprise, but it’s nevertheless a noteworthy achievement to complete an online degree while stationed overseas,” said Gathman. “I’m constantly impressed with the dedication of all of our online students who juggle work and family responsibilities daily to achieve their educational goals, and Lieutenant Colonel Powell is an outstanding example of that dedication.”

Powell is an active duty Marine of 26 years in the U.S.  Marine Corps. He has completed eight combat tours that include four deployments to Iraq and one deployment to Afghanistan.

According to Powell, the military requires a master’s degree for continued service as it demonstrates self-improvement and an analytical mindset for problem solving.

After retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps, Powell plans to work in politics or in humanitarian efforts overseas.

“The degree will help me at an executive level of organization with outside agencies, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Defense,” said Powell.

Powell received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration and a minor in Japanese in 2002 from Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri.