From Dropout to Standout: John Madden’s Inspiring Journey

From Dropout to Standout: John Madden’s Inspiring Journey

Humble Beginnings

John Madden was a community college dropout. John was struggling to find his way in education, and like many did not necessarily have a strong desire or motivation to excel in academia. In high school, he did not consider himself “scholarly” but decided to attend the local community college.

He found that it was never the right fit. “At the time, I did not have the maturity skills to handle school, and I flunked out a couple different times,” says John.

Something had to change if he wanted to achieve his goal of going into law enforcement, and John knew it. “In late 2020, I was seeing people around me become police officers that were younger than me, and I knew I had to do something.”

However, given his prior academic struggles, John knew going back to school would not be easy.

A Clean Slate

Enter Rasmussen University. Looking for a clean slate, John began investigating the Law Enforcement opportunities at Rasmussen University.

“I heard from other officers that Rasmussen had a good program, and a lot of people that have gone through their program have gone on to have successful careers in law enforcement,” he says.

He decided to give it a shot, and the road to becoming a police officer began to take shape.

“Once I got to Rasmussen, I was able to budget my time much better,” says John. He was now able to juggle school, work, volunteering and life without sacrificing his performance. However, he acknowledges he could not have done this alone.

“The instructors were very helpful and understanding even when I was struggling with something. They were very good at explaining things and even slowing things down so I could understand it,” explains John.

In addition, John had a fantastic support system. “My family has been very supportive of me going into law enforcement.”

He expanded on this by offering this sentiment: “You can’t always do this thing alone. Sometimes you have to reach out and ask for help, which can be a very difficult thing to do for some people, but a necessary thing to do.”


As John continued his experience at Rasmussen University, he began to value how much his instructors were positively impacting him.

“I really appreciated the background of the different instructors I had. We had Minnesota State Troopers, St. Paul Police Officers and officers from suburban and county agencies. I really appreciate the different perspectives each of those officers had on law enforcement,” he says.

John also began to see strides in academic performance. He was not just passing his classes; his results were exceptional. John made the honor roll for the first time in his academic career—an achievement unimaginable to him just years earlier.

“It really showed that I am really making improvements here. I am really making progress towards my educational goals. I never had made the honor roll in high school or at my prior college. That was really big for me,” John says.

John was on a roll. He was able to maintain that momentum and success right through graduation. He did it.

What’s Next

Earning his degree is only the beginning of John’s journey. He passed the police officer licensing exam post-graduation and is currently having a background check conducted, which is the next step in the process of becoming a police officer.

When asked about his goals and dreams, his reply was simple: “I just want to help other people be successful in their own lives,” he answered.

As for his career, he hopes to one day potentially take on a command staff position, such as becoming a sergeant.

Inspiring Others

Today, John Madden is a college graduate, a hopeful future police officer, and a symbol of struggle and perseverance.

His ongoing story has much more meaning than may meet the eye. Many students struggle the way he did and become discouraged. John’s relatable story can be a bridge to inspire not only Rasmussen students but youth in general.

John offers this piece of advice to prospective students:

“It’s going to be hard sometimes. Find the people in your life that support you, whether that’s your parents, brother, sister, good friend, a teacher, a colleague, etc. Find your support system and reach out to them. Remember how good you are going to feel when you accomplish your goals despite your struggles.”

About the author

Vaughn Deinhart

Vaughn Deinhart works on the marketing and communications team at Collegis Education. Vaughn supports the team with research, strategic thinking and writing. He enjoys having opportunities to tell success stories that may inspire others to pursue their goals and dreams.

Vaughn Deinhart

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