Ryan and Kayla Harp
As husband and wife, Ryan and Kayla Harp have shared a
similar journey. As military veterans, law enforcement officials and three-time
Hodges alumni, they are a powerhouse couple who are securing their futures now
with their education from Hodges University.
Enlisting in the United States Army in 2006, the two met
while stationed in Fort Still, Oklahoma, and worked as correctional officers in
the Joint Regional Correctional Facility. After a year and a half, Ryan changed
his military occupational specialty (MOS) to military police – a choice that
would prove beneficial when transitioning to civilian life.
Marrying in November 2007, they moved to Fort Leavenworth,
Kansas, and Kayla worked in the United States Disciplinary Barracks, which is
the only military maximum security prison. Ryan, who eventually earned the
title of sergeant, attended various schools to obtain additional knowledge and
skills relating to his work as a military police officer.
Leaving the military life behind her in 2009, Kayla
continued to serve in a supportive role for Ryan, who received an honorable
discharge in 2011.
“I always knew that I wanted to earn a degree, but I needed
to find the time and money to do it. When my husband and I both were out of the
Army, we decided it was time to get our degrees,” said Kayla.
When the couple moved from Kansas to Florida to be closer to
family, Ryan’s brother, Derek Harp, told the two about Hodges University.
Hearing of Derek’s great experience, they visited the school and enrolled in
May 2011. Reflecting on their time in the Army and the experience they gained
working as military police, they decided to pursue their Associate
in Science in criminal justice. Earning their degrees in August 2012, they
didn’t stop there. Instead, they continued onto the bachelor’s program in
“I choose to pursue my bachelor’s
degree in criminal justice because I wanted to further my education in the
career path I am in,” said Ryan. “I want to have the knowledge to be able to
perform my duties to the best of my abilities. Seeking my degree helped in
For Kayla, a bachelor’s degree seemed like the natural next
step after earning her associate. Enjoying the small classes and personalized
approach from professors, she said, “I really enjoyed my criminal justice class
professors because they would share their personal experiences with the class
and relate it to the material we were learning.”
In 2014, after earning their bachelor’s degrees in criminal
justice, the Harps took some time off from school to focus on their careers. Kayla
serves as a jail deputy for the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. Working in the
housing department, she is responsible for maintaining control of the female
inmates. Ryan is a police officer with the City of Naples Police Department and
works as a traffic investigation motor officer in the special operations
division of the traffic department.
Aspiring to grow within their respective careers, they began
to discuss the idea of returning to school to earn a master’s degree. While
Kayla knew her decision would be to return to Hodges, Ryan was close to
considering another school; however, reflecting on his experience, he opted to
pursue his master’s
in public administration (MPA) at Hodges because of the UPOWER™
“The UPOWER™ program was laid out very easily. It made
taking the classes stress-free because you knew what you had to do to complete
the class,” he explained. Following in his footsteps, Kayla enrolled in the
UPOWER™ MPA program in November 2016, saying, “I was focused on getting the
program completed within my six-month subscription, so on my days off, I would
be working on my classes. For the six months, I really did not have much free
time. Writing the papers and the PowerPoint presentations are what took up most
of the time, and of course, reading all of the material.”
While taking classes on campus and online during their
undergraduate programs, UPOWER™ presented a new and flexible option that was convenient
for their schedules. As a self-paced option for students, the new format
required additional dedication and commitment, and as Kayla explains, “Time
management is the most important thing in order to be successful. You have to know
that you can get it done in six months if you really focus on your schoolwork.”
Driven to complete the program in six months, the two worked
hard to manage their time between work and school, and while UPOWER™ removes
the face-to-face interaction, the connection to their professors remained
strong, such as with Dr. Donald Forrer.
“I liked how he would send out his weekly emails of encouragement, and he always
said if we had a question, we could call him directly,” said Kayla.
Ryan completed his master’s in May 2016, and Kayla recently
finished hers in April 2017. With each possessing three degrees, they appreciate
what their undergraduate degrees have done in assisting them in their current
positions; however, with regard to their graduate degrees, they look forward to
the possibilities and opportunities ahead in either promotion or retirement.