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Joshua Russell in Red Barn

Joshua Russell

“I had the opportunity to go to any ROTC program I wanted, but I figured why not go to the best and that was Austin Peay.”
Major: Criminal Justice
Hometown: Greenwood, Indiana
Involvement: Austin Peay ROTC, 12 years on active duty in U.S. Army

After 12 years on active duty in the U.S. Army, with combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an enlisted soldier, Joshua Russell said he had options as he explored the Army’s Green to Gold program, which provides active duty soldiers the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree en route to a commission as an officer. Ultimately, the Indiana native decided there was no better option than the one located right in Fort Campbell’s backyard — Austin Peay State University.

Blackhawks land on campus
APSU's ROTC has received the General Douglas MacArthur award seven times in the last 26 years.

“I could have chosen to enroll anywhere in the country, from the University of Florida to the University of Washington, but Austin Peay is a Top-10 ROTC program in the country, so why not go to the best program possible,” Russell said.

Russell has taken full advantage of his opportunity as a cadet in Austin Peay’s Governors Guard ROTC detachment, including serving as the cadet in charge of the detachment’s 2017 Junior ROTC Raider Challenge as well as the detachment’s weekly blitz tactical training. Russell has also excelled in the classroom, earning a 4.0 GPA as he works towards a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

Upon graduation, Russell plans to pursue a career in Army intelligence, and his experience in Austin Peay’s ROTC program has prepared him to lead in ways he could not have imagined as an enlisted soldier.


“One of the biggest things I’ve learned at Austin Peay is patience,” Russell said. “On the enlisted side, I thought I knew about how to lead, but getting a chance to learn from our ROTC program’s lieutenant colonel, captains and other cadets from different fields has shown me that what worked for me in the past may not work now, and that I have to have the patience to learn from others and explore different courses of action before I can become a better leader myself.”