LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — A lifelong UK fan is finally achieving his wildest dream. In less than a week, LT. AJ Lueke starts working toward a masters of science at the University of Kentucky.

Despite growing up in Louisville, LT. Lueke always knew he belonged in Big Blue Nation. But for this first-generation college student, his journey to get there was a bit unconventional.

UK has an expensive price tag, and LT. Lueke didn’t want to spend years paying off tuition. He earned his undergraduate nursing degree in his hometown at the University of Louisville before joining the military.

Through the Metropolitan College Program, a Kentucky partnership between UPS and the University of Louisville, LT. Lueke’s undergraduate tuition was fully covered. He took classes and worked the night shift at a local warehouse. He also lived at home to save some extra cash.

LT. Lueke is not your typical college student. His path to the Avenue of Champions wasn’t easy. It took him nearly ten years to become a wildcat, but he does not regret a thing.

“One of my high school teachers always said, ‘Do what you have to do now, so you do what you want to do later,’ and it kind of stuck with me,” said LT. Lueke. “It was terrible then, but for the rest of my life I can do whatever I want.”

LT. Lueke now serves as a critical care nurse in the United States Navy. He is stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Thanks to military tuition assistance and scholarships, he starts his master’s of science in nursing healthcare systems leadership on Monday.

While many students head to campus this week, LT. Lueke remains in another state, serving our country while attending UK online. The online program allows him to graduate in blue in three years

“You need to be from Kentucky to understand,” said LT. Lueke. “To actually be a wildcat, and to have a piece of paper saying I’ve accomplished all their criteria to be a graduate of their graduate program will be amazing.”

LT. Lueke hopes to make it to a football game this fall, as well as several basketball games. If duty calls and he can’t make it in person, he will proudly sport his UK blue from North Carolina.