At the age of 21, Bobbievette "BoJo" Johnson found herself working in the food service industry. After having several jobs at various fast food restaurants, she felt like she deserved more for herself. One day, a recruiter from the Marine Corps visited the Church's Chicken location where she was working.

"And the rest is history," Johnson says.

Now 47, the Chicago native has spent over 25 years in the Marines, working her way up the ranks to become a Master Gunnery Sergeant E9. She is currently stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif.

In addition to her around-the-clock military obligations, she is also working toward earning a master's degree in criminal justice with a specialization in forensics and behavioral studies from Saint Leo University. She previously attained a BS in criminal justice with a specialization in forensics from American Military University.

Benefits of Online Degree Programs

While Johnson has attended Saint Leo's education center at her base, she has completed most of the courses in her MS program online.

"I prefer taking classes online because I can decide when I want to sit down and focus on my assignments," she explains. "The Marines can be a 24/7 job at times, and I have 29 Marines I'm responsible for. I've asked some of my professors for extended time on certain assignments because of work, and they've been very flexible with me. Online courses let me prioritize my schedule."

Tips for Online Learners

She offers up some personal advice for those considering online learning based on her own experience.

"I'm always preaching education to my Marines, and distance learning is a great option for them. Online classes take lots of discipline. I have to ask myself if I'm going to go to the gym or do homework. I say you have to devote at least 2 hours per day to your online classes. If you're taking several online classes, be sure to break them up. For example, focus on one class on Mondays and then another class on Tuesdays. This will help you stay focused and not mix up your coursework."

As for her post-military career goals?

"I want to be a crime scene investigator with the FBI," she says.

The military runs in her family. She has an identical twin sister, Jeannette, who is a 20-year Army veteran. She also has a longtime furry companion, a 17-year-old Maine Coon feline named PJ.

When Johnson finds free time, she serves on several ministries in her church, does volunteer work and runs marathons.

Selecting Saint Leo University

It was a fellow member of the Marines whose positive experience as a Saint Leo student convinced her that the university was the best choice for her academic goals.

"I had a mentor who was also attending Saint Leo," Johnson recalls. "He told me about the school and how much he enjoyed the experience. At the time, I was taking online courses from another university, but I did not feel challenged. The first class I took with Saint Leo really challenged me. It wasn't just going through the motions like I had felt in other situations. I also found out that I could use some of my military experience toward my master's degree."

Experience as a Saint Leo Student

Johnson says she has had an excellent experience as an MS student.

"I'm happy to be a Saint Leo University student," she says. "The guidance counselors are great, and I've enjoyed my instructors very much. Dr. Jorey Krawczyn has probably been my favorite professor because I love the way he teaches. Everyone has been so easy to deal with and helpful."