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Student Testimonial: Trent Grabowski

“I was deployed when I started the degree, so just the fact that I knew I wasn’t going to have to be in person anywhere and I could do it remotely was a big sell.” – Trent Grabowski, online microbiology master’s program December 2022 graduate   

As a U.S. Air Force pilot, Trent Grabowski is able to reach heights every day that most of us can only imagine. His professional ambitions go far beyond earth’s atmosphere, however, and played a central role in his choice to earn a master’s degree in microbiology. Currently on active duty, Grabowski kindly took some time to explain how the convergence of a longtime passion and his career ambitions led him to UF’s online master’s degree in microbiology and cell science and the fortuitous discovery he made upon acceptance to our program. 

Higher Aspirations 

Grabowski explained that his motivation for earning a microbiology degree was his dream of a future aerospace career. “My undergrad [degree] at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs was biology. And I’ve always had a passion for microbiology, so I wanted to further my education. I kind of felt like I was not getting stimulated in the flying world anymore. You know, I’ve been flying the same airplane for several years. I didn’t feel engaged as much. So, I wanted to do something on the side that would excite me, [that] I was passionate about and [would] get me a master’s, hopefully, to inevitably move on to getting a PhD. And then, ultimately, I want to apply to NASA and become an astronaut. That’s kind of my long-term plan there, and I think this [degree] will only help my resume.”  

Finding a Flexible, Military-Friendly Program From a Respected Institution  

Since he would be deployed while starting his master’s degree, Grabowski needed a program without scheduling or geographic constraints. He eventually found that and other advantages with UF. “I did [look at other programs] in the beginning. UF didn’t require the GRE at the time, or they’d just gotten rid of that requirement. I did know, as I was doing my research, that they had a very well renowned microbiology program that was very large and robust and well respected. That was another selling point too. It wasn’t just a random small college, [but a university] that fit all my needs that happened to also be one that was reputable.” 

Grabowski continued: “The primary reason I chose UF is because it was completely online, so there was no requirement for me to travel anywhere. And the reason being is I was in New Mexico at the time and I’m active-duty military. So, to take time off is virtually impossible. Just the fact that I knew I wasn’t going to have to be in person anywhere and I could do it remotely was a big sell. Most classes didn’t require me to log into any live sessions. It was all prerecorded lectures that I had to keep up with, but I didn’t have to be tied to a specific time zone.” 

A Fortuitously Timed Course  

Once accepted into the program, Grabowski was pleasantly surprised to discover one aspect of the curriculum that tied directly to his professional aspirations. “They offered an astrobiology class,” he said. “Traditionally, not very [common]. It used to be a fringe topic in science and now it’s becoming more prevalent for obvious reasons. And the fact that, I don’t think they offered it at the time, but it was a new add right around the time that I got accepted to start the program. [That] was the most excited I got about a course.” 

A Word for Prospective Students 

Grabowski’s serendipitous experience with the astrobiology course provided the impetus for his advice to prospective students of our microbiology and cell science master’s degree program. “Stick with it and take the electives that give you passion.” 

Equipped with his skill in aviation and new microbiology credentials, Trent Grabowski is on track for a future career as an astronaut. Get closer to realizing your own ambitions with an online master’s degree in microbiology from UF! Get details about the program and application process here. 

Learn More About the Program

Click for details about the Microbiology & Cell Science online graduate programs.