Iraq War Veteran Earns RMU’s Highest Undergraduate Award
A U.S. Marine Corps veteran who completed two tours of duty in Iraq has won Robert Morris University’s highest undergraduate award, the Presidential Transformational Award.
Joshua Caskey, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history on May 7, has received the 2016 Presidential Transformational Award. The award is given annually at commencement to a graduating senior who has been transformed by their experience at RMU and, through their leadership, community service, and academic achievements has transformed RMU.
“I am humbled to receive the Presidential Transformational Award. My time in the Marine Corps has given me the drive and determination to achieve success in whatever endeavors I pursue in life,” said Caskey, 34, of West View, Pa.
“My time at Robert Morris University has been such a positive experience. The small class sizes and one-on-one attention from the professors have been a key factor to my success at RMU. Also, the university’s focus on veterans’ needs has played a pivotal role in my success as a student,” Caskey said.
As a junior, Caskey was the recipient of the John Graham Founding Dean Award, which is presented annually to the top student, graduate or undergraduate, in the School of Education and Social Sciences. He has made the Dean’s List every semester, and he represented the School of Education and Social Sciences in this year’s Undergraduate Research Conference at RMU. Caskey is an active member of the university’s History Club.
Caskey is also a driving force behind the Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans Project, an oral history project to document the experiences of veterans of America’s recent wars. The project is part of the RMU Oral History Center, and among the veterans who have sat for interviews are Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva and RMU President Chris Howard. Caskey interviewed the president for the project.
“Josh embodies so much of what is great about RMU: high academic achievement, a commitment to serve others, and love for his country. He is a worthy recipient of this honor and sets a high bar for those who follow,” said Howard.
After graduation Caskey will pursue a master’s degree in instructional leadership and a teaching certificate at RMU. He plans to be a social studies teacher and ultimately a school principal. He spent 12 years as a Marine, and he is the recipient of the Purple Heart for wounds he suffered in Iraq. He received a Combat Action Ribbon, four Good Conduct Medals, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with “V” for Valor.
Caskey is among 65 veterans earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from RMU this year, and 241 veterans are currently enrolled at the university. In 2009, RMU became one of the first private institutions in the United States to participate in the federal Yellow Ribbon Program, covering the gap between the university’s tuition and veterans’ education benefits.