"I'd like to thank you for being a part of something bigger than any one of us."
Not to risk sounding like a billboard, but my St. Ambrose experiences have been wonderful. I've gotten everything I've asked and more from St. Ambrose: a top-notch education, great instructors, a laid-back, students-first environment.
The Communications Studies Department is full of fine people-Duke Schneider, Alan Sivell and Matt Carroll not the least among them. I've taken away from each of these individuals a big chunk of knowledge that I'll be able to take into an often unforgiving working world and be fine.
I graduated UNI in 2003, bachelor's degree in hand, and entered into a strange transitional phase of life where I wasn't sure which direction I was headed. I knew at that time that I was done with school, and that was perfectly fine by me. I moved to Charleston, South Carolina, and lived with my brother. While there I worked a few different jobs. One day I got into an argument over the phone with my boss while driving in my car and abruptly quit my job (which wasn't that great a job anyway).
As a matter of fate, I happened to be driving past a Marine recruiting office there in Charleston. I automatically thought of my desire as a teenager to become one of the few, the proud. The military seemed like a pretty clear-cut path for me, and I took it.
2004 was an interesting time to join. I was being prepared for war, in every broad sense of the term. I served two tours in Iraq with distinction as an assistant squad leader and squad leader. I spent four years in the Marines and decided that I'd met my goal there. I separated in 2008, again unsure of what I was going to do.
I moved to North Liberty, Iowa, to live with a friend, and it was only a couple weeks after coming back to the states that I met my gorgeous future wife, Cara. Our relationship progressed, and we developed a loving bond that has held firm through today.
As I was happily figuring out that aspect of my life, there was still a large void in me. I yearned to reinvest myself in a positive way. I wanted to return to school. Cara found a job with Genesis, and we moved together to Davenport. The 'perfect storm' combination of Cara finding a job here, us wanting to settle down, and my desire to continue my education, led me to seek enrollment at SAU. There was really no school here to compare.
One aspect of St. Ambrose that maybe not a lot of people are aware of is its designation as a military-friendly school. The Yellow Ribbon Program is a major part of that. Along with the G.I. Bill, it's allowed me to seek an education in journalism at St. Ambrose University, virtually for free.
The education I've received over a short two years has been phenomenal. The instructors basically give the reins to the students. Whatever I've asked to be taught, I've been taught, never a question asked or a hint of hesitation from the instructors.
Last semester I created a 23-minute historical documentary that is currently being reworked for TV. I sit on the board of a non-profit documentary company as a result of that experience. This year I'm editing the student newspaper, The Buzz, a demanding position for which my military leadership skills have often come in handy. Some of what I've written has already appeared in other papers. My past work with the Dateline student news program is being submitted to compete with that of students from other schools.
At every stop along the way, I've been given the tools and access necessary for me to gain an invaluable skill set in my chosen field. I know that, regardless of where I'll be or what I'll be doing in 3 or 5 years, I'll succeed, because of the education and opportunities that St. Ambrose has afforded me.
I'd like to thank you for being a part of something bigger than any one of us. I'm grateful that the school has left an indelible impression on you-as it has on me-that you'd be gracious enough to contribute.
I can easily see myself, a few years down the road, where you are today, listening to another SAU success story. This cycle of producing well-rounded, well-educated individuals is the school's trademark, and I'm thankful that I get to be a part of it.
Thank you all.