Army captain balanced military training, deployment while completing his degree

Matt Caracappa
May 05, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Army Capt. Andy Duhon has been busy the past four years. He attained his current rank and position after completing Army courses and trainings. He took language immersion classes before serving overseas. He deployed to West Africa for six months, and he and his wife had two kids.

On top of all that, Duhon also was taking courses on his way to a Penn State degree.

Duhon will graduate on Sunday, May 7, with a master of professional studies in homeland security after completing the degree online through Penn State World Campus. He will be one of the almost 1,600 graduate students to be awarded their degrees during the University’s spring commencement.

The civil affairs officer, who selected the program’s geospatial intelligence option, helps give U.S. troops and diplomats a crash course on an area’s local customs and culture through mapping the human terrain.

He and his team spent eight months studying the terrorist organization Boko Haram and which families along the Niger and Cameroon border were most susceptible to recruitment. Through his coursework, Duhon said he was able to build a better map of the situation.

“We learned that children who are part of families that are departed from central power were more likely to be recruited by them,” said Duhon, 34. “Through Penn State, my courses and job were aligned. I was able to build better products and learn how to manipulate programs to get better results.”

Duhon enrolled at Penn State shortly after arriving at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in 2013.

During the next four years, he balanced his coursework with his military service and family. He was promoted to captain, completed both the Army’s special operations forces captains course and civil affairs officers program, took French-language immersion courses prior to serving overseas, and spent six months deployed in Mali in West Africa.

In addition, he and his wife, herself an Army major, had two boys. Duhon will also begin another six-month deployment as a special operations liaison officer in June.

While enrolled, Duhon said he took between one and four courses a semester depending on his Army workload. Duhon completed course readings on his lunch break during his 11-hour workday and finished other coursework after his sons went to bed around 9:30 p.m.

Duhon said the degree will give him the opportunity to work in either the civilian or military side helping support foreign policy and programs. He also said his professors were helpful as he balanced his multiple commitments.

“Even being far away, Penn State was always reachable,” Duhon said.

Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information.

  • Penn State World Campus
    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 12, 2021