Kenneth Roberts II '16
Chula Vista, California
Kenneth Roberts II has spent time all over the Pacific Rim during his 20-year career with the U.S. Marine Corps. His military career took him to Thailand, Philippines, South Korea and Japan, among other places. With the help of Kansas State University Global Campus, Roberts spent time furthering his education in each of those places, too.
Roberts completed the online bachelor's degree in dietetics in 2016 after getting into martial arts training and sports nutrition in the mid-2000s. But finishing the degree wasn't easy. Roberts took Chemistry II in Thailand while working 14-hour shifts for the Marines and spending nearly four hours each day commuting. When he finally had the chance to work on school assignments, he did so in tents or hotel rooms into the early morning hours.
With his degree completed, Roberts has several doors opening as he pursues his goal of becoming a dietitian. He can soon retire from active duty after 20 years of service and now has the education needed to break into the field.
Dietetics Bachelor's Student Experience
What made you want to pursue a bachelor's degree in dietetics?
"I'm in the Marine Corps, so from 2004 to 2007 I was actually a Marine Corps drill instructor at Parris Island, South Carolina. About halfway through my tour, I started getting into martial arts, and the Marine Corps certified me as an advanced martial art instructor/trainer. At that time, I started really getting into sports nutrition, and I was looking for a way to go into a field like that. I learned what a dietitian was, and I looked up the Academy on Nutrition and Dietetics. I found Kansas State University, and I shot the arrow and decided I was going to, no matter how long it took, pursue the degree and become a dietitian."
Did you have a sense of community with other students/faculty in the program?
"At that time, Facebook was still growing and social media was the new thing for meeting people and networking for jobs. So in 2012, I had already been in Japan for two years, and I was just starting out the actual degree, the upper level courses within the dietetics program. I remember messaging my advisor and asking to create a group. I promised it would be professional – just a way to potentially connect other K-State dietetics students. It would only be open to those students that are either enrolled in the program or alumni. I thought it would be a good way to help each other out from around the world, just to talk about resources and motivate each other. It really blossomed from there, and we've got close to 200 people in the group now."
Were there any members of the faculty who made an impact on you?
"There were several. When I took the first course in dietetics, I was in Japan, but we were going to go to Thailand for an exercise. I was trying to rush through the materials before I left, but the internet speed was so slow in Japan that I couldn't. Deborah Canter, who was in charge of the dietetics program, sent me a stack of CDs with recordings of all the lectures. So I was able to listen to them and then take the exams. That really set the tone with me for K-State on how much the dietetics distance faculty would go above and beyond to make sure we could continue with the program.
"Linda Yarrow was influential as well. Not just in teaching courses, but mentoring me and networking on my behalf. She's just an amazing woman, and it's cool to see how active she is with the students and how much she cares about them."
What does receiving your degree mean to you?
"I would say it's a beginning. It's a milestone, rather. It's pretty significant to me. Next summer, I'll retire from 20 years of active duty in the Marine Corps. I've got peers from high school that are doctors now. But I have 20 years of world travel, and I have a dietetics degree that means the world to me. It's pretty monumental."