Pro Golf and Biostatistics: Caleb VanArragon ’23, ’24 M.S., Meets Graduation With Countless Open Doors

From the natural progression of Caleb VanArragon’s ’23, ’24 M.S., golf career, it would seem like he was born with a golf club in his hand, however, he first picked up the club a little later in life – when he was just three years old. At five years old, he was already entering his first tournament. Right out of high school, he started working with his current swing coach, who he credits for helping him turn into the highly successful golfer he is today – along with his younger sister, who doubles as his greatest inspiration. 

“I was able to get recruited for golf by a few different schools, but Valpo was where I wanted to go,” Caleb says. “I always knew I wanted to go to a smaller school in the Midwest, and that’s what Valpo is. Then, on my first visit, I met the golf team and Coach Gring, saw the campus, and learned more about Christ College – The Honors College. It felt like a really good fit, and I committed pretty quickly.”

Since then, Caleb’s talent only grew: He’s a three-time Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the first at-large NCAA Regional qualifier in program history, and a recognized First Team Academic All-American – the first in the program and Valpo’s fifteenth in any sport. And that’s just on the fairway!

Despite all of his accomplishments, Caleb’s favorite part of being on the Valpo men’s golf team is the team itself. “There are other schools that have bigger practice facilities or a state-of-the-art weight room, but ultimately, if you don’t like your coach or the guys on your team, none of that is going to make a difference. You’re spending time with the people on a day-to-day basis, and that’s going to either make or break your experience,” Caleb shares. “My teammates and my coaches are the best part of playing golf at Valpo. Coach Gring and Coach Ron are such great coaches. Of course they want us to do well on the green, but they also really care about making sure our grades are good, that we’re getting involved in other things on campus, and that we’re becoming good, well-rounded people. And my teammates are just awesome; we have great team chemistry.”

Caleb VanArragon ’23, ’24 M.S.

The team’s home tournament from just last year serves as a testament to the bond the golf team shares. “We started in a very rough position; one of our best players was out sick, and one of our captains was also out with an injury. So, we were coming into our home tournament without two of our top five players. And in golf, it’s a five-person team,” Caleb explains. “But then, we had a couple of guys in the lineup step up and play really well for us. And, we won our home tournament for the second year in a row.” To Caleb, it was the biggest highlight of his career – and definitely one for the team.

Now, after countless memories, victories, trials, and overcoming, Caleb is coming into his final collegiate season of golf. Just because the clock is ticking on his fifth year doesn’t mean his golf journey is over: a pro career is in the making. “At the start or end of this summer, I’m planning on turning professional and giving that a go. I figure this is the only time in my life where I’ll have the opportunity to give that a try,” Caleb says. “I’m looking forward to it. I think it’ll be really fun to just be able to golf for a while and enjoy it.”

While Caleb is certainly ready to take a swing at pro golf, his success in academics has secured him a plethora of open doors. Throughout his entire Valpo experience, Caleb has put the “student” in student-athlete first. He began his undergraduate journey with a biology and statistics double major and is now rounding the finish line of our one-year master of science in analytics and modeling program. That’s three degrees in just five years!

“I knew that I wanted to do something in statistics, but then there was the question of what I wanted to pair it with. There are so many applications to statistics: business analytics, mathematics statistics, and so on. I was interested in biostatistics,” Caleb explains. “I wanted to combine those interests, and I’m lucky I was able to do that at Valpo. I’ve enjoyed all my classes and, aside from professional golfing, it’s what I want to do moving forward.”

Of course, Caleb went well beyond just studying for his degrees. He’s conducted research with Associate Professor of Biology Danielle Orozco-Nunnelly, Ph.D., as well as helped Associate Professor of Biology Patrice Bouyer, Ph.D., with the statistics for his own biology research projects. On top of that, he’s served as a department tutor, currently runs two statistics help sessions, and is a lifelong Christ College Scholar. He’s a familiar face on our campus and one that we will always welcome home.

“I really, really have enjoyed my time at Valpo, and I think the nicest part about it is its smaller size. I’ve never been in a class with more than 40 students. I’ve gotten to know pretty much every professor that I’ve had. From those relationships, I’ve had a lot of opportunities: research experience, being a tutor, and being a [teaching assistant] for different classes. And that’s something that I know I just wouldn’t get at a lot of other schools,” Caleb says. “All that to say, I’m really glad I chose Valpo.”

It’s safe to say that wherever Caleb’s drive takes him, he’s going to exceed all expectations. Whether that’s as a pro golfer, going back to school for his Ph.D., conducting university research, or going right into a career in biotech or pharmaceuticals, Valpo is proud to have been part of his journey. Be sure to read more about his impressive golfing career, or follow in his footsteps in Valpo’s statistics and biology programs.

Caleb VanArragon ’23, ’24 M.S.