Online student laser focused on finishing his Badger bachelor’s degree

John sitting at his computer in front of a large window

In 2008, John Gloeckler was fresh out of high school, starting his higher education journey at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. A proud Badger who attended his first UW–Madison hockey game when he was a baby, Gloeckler did well his first two years in college. 

Then life intervened. He faced a major loss and found himself battling mental health issues. “It kind of rocked me to my core,” he said.

Gloeckler didn’t finish his degree and left UW–Madison to be with his family and attend school closer to home. But a decade later, after finding success in his career and taking care of his mental health, he still felt a strong pull to earn his bachelor’s.

“It’s eaten away at me the last 10 years,” he said. “UW–Madison Online is allowing me to finish what I started – a bachelor’s degree from UW–Madison.”

A dream, deferred

When he enrolled at UW–Madison at age 18, Gloeckler had high hopes for his undergraduate career. But in 2010, his grandfather – an important person in his life – became ill and passed away. That, along with other personal issues, plunged him into depression. He and his parents agreed that leaving Madison and coming home to Green Bay would be best.

Back home, Gloeckler started courses at UW-Green Bay in biology after a few years of studying wildlife ecology at UW–Madison. He’d always been interested in science and the environment, thanks to the time he spent outdoors with his grandfather.

While at UW-Green Bay, Gloeckler started a job in the food safety industry doing microbiology and chemistry work, then shifted to customer service and sales. His company wanted him to come on board full time, so he left school to work and continue to take care of his mental health. In sessions with a counselor, Gloeckler realized that finishing his bachelor’s degree would be an important milestone in healing.

“I was tired of pretending that not finishing my bachelor’s didn’t matter to me,” he added. “I’m finishing this degree at UW–Madison Online for me because I need to move on with my life, have that sense of accomplishment and know that I can finish what I started.”

Practical, flexible, career-focused

Gloeckler appreciates the practicality and rigor of his UW–Madison Online degree program.

“The program matched well with many of the science credits I had already taken. I found the business side interesting and an asset for future career development,” he said. “I want to leverage the business analytics and consumer trend skills that I’ve learned in my classes to complement my environmental studies certificate and help me become a sustainability professional for a company seeking to establish and meet their green goals.”

His classes are already helping him meet career goals. For instance, he immediately used the knowledge he gained in both accounting and consumer finance.

Gloeckler said online classes are just as rigorous as in-person courses. Having a full-time job that includes travel and overtime, he’s worked hard to stay organized and plan time for studying as well as time to enjoy friends, family and hobbies such as music and biking. 

John and his wife Deedra looking out on a sunny day
John Gloeckler and his wife Deedra.

“I chose to continue my studies online so that I had a flexible schedule, taking things online at my pace when I have the time. And I had to continue working to contribute to my family,” he said. “An online program allows me to steer the ship that is my life. I can start to be an active participant again in what my future is, and quite frankly, it’s really exciting.”

Gloeckler emphasizes the support he’s received from family and friends that makes all the difference when it comes to being a busy student with a full life. He feels grateful to still have time to train for bike races, play in a music duo with his dad, participate in conservation causes, cheer for the Green Bay Packers and travel with his wife.

“My biggest supporter to finish my degree is my wife, Deedra,” he added. “She allowed me to go full steam ahead to continue getting my education and completing my degree. Life isn’t going to stop for school, and my wife has been a terrific help.”

Living out a legacy

Gloeckler currently works for Belmark, Inc., a manufacturing company, where he is a packaging application engineer.

“Right now I’m in a position as a sustainability expert at our facility,” he said. “I would love to see us change the industry from the inside out. We’re striving to make demand, price and cost all line up for a reasonable solution to environmental issues.”

This is where his bachelor’s degree comes in – and how he will honor the legacy of his grandfather.

By combining his past education in environmental studies and biology with his UW–Madison business education, he hopes to make a positive impact on sustainability and the environment as he advances in his career.

“My grandpa was a big reason for originally going to Madison and pursuing a wildlife ecology degree,” he said. “We spent a lot of time together out on the bay bird-watching, doing conservation projects and duck hunting. We were really close.”

Gloeckler is confident that finishing his degree will help him heal from grief and give him the best shot to live a life where he can honor his past and make a difference for the future.

“My advice to people considering the program would be to go for it, but to have the support that you need,” he said. “Know that there are going to be challenges, but if I can do it, anybody can.”

For more information, contact a UW–Madison Online enrollment coach by email at uwmadison@online.wisc.edu, by phone at 608-400-7459 or by text at 608-688-9118. 

Read The Ultimate Guide to Online Business Degrees for more information on earning your degree online.

If you are a prospective student wondering what support is available or a current UW–Madison student seeking health, financial or other support, please see the Get Help page for resources and information.