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Reflections of a non-traditional student

As a veteran and UNH senior, I feel the need to salute the kids and faculty at our school before I graduate next month. Have any of you been to a sporting event where they fire rolled up T-shirts into the crowd, out of something that looks like a Gatling gun and would probably dislocate your shoulder if it hit you square on the clavicle? Well, that’s how fast I feel like I am being propelled toward graduation; the last two semesters have flown by like nothing.

  I had wanted to attend UNH back in the ‘90s, but could not afford it. I was finally able to start my college student journey here in 2009, on the strength of the post-9/11 GI Bill (I deployed two times to Iraq between 2003 and 2009, with the U.S. Army Reserve). Since 2009 I had a third Iraq deployment, and an academic suspension for one spring semester (#MyBad), and I began again here in summer of 2011.

I tell the younger students that I am easy to find; I don’t see many older guys wearing throwback jerseys, like they’re trying to be fifteen-years-old again!

  I have had nothing but props and support from the kids and faculty and administrators at this school, during this time. Lonn Sattler in the Veterans’ Services office has always been there when I had financial questions and any other concerns. Lonn is a Navy veteran, (and easily identifiable by his Blackberry and 1970s Easy Rider haircut), and Karen Gilbert and Denny Byrne and all the others have been great.

  I can remember being in ENE 520 with Dr. Nancy Kinner, and how she would Skype in lectures when she was called away to do important environmental work. You can see her occasionally around campus, on her bicycle and wearing her red hat. She has an awesome personality, and I always thought that she wears the hat so that if there is ever an epidemic alert on campus, she can go sliding under the closing doors, then reach back for her hat like Indiana Jones in “Temple of Doom.”

Professor Cook in Intro to Engineering always was fun and interesting in class; he has been known to crowd surf at commencement as well. I value the time I spent in his classes. Dr. Meghan Howey gave a great on campus archaeology class, and I always tell students you can find adventure in your own back yard. Marieka Brouwer Burg of the anthropology department always challenges her students; even pop culture archaeology was relevant to today’s headlines, as well as fun. Incidentally, I suspect that part of her Belize trips are for the purpose of filming the action sequences to “Tomb Raider” 5 and 6.

The Anthropology Club and Student Armed Forces Association have been great fun to be a part of.

I was privileged to be in the final Shakespeare class taught by Professor Eggers. I enjoyed all of my English and other classes; if I talked too much in class, it was because I was interested in the topic and just glad to be here.

The beautiful girls at the MUB, the Notch, Zeke’s, Breaking New Grounds and Albert’s plus those in all of my classes always made my day. Maybe you just stopped to say “hi” or join me for lunch or give me a hug (those were awesome- and there’s no law against it); I want to say thanks. It really meant so much!

Tammy and Amanda and Michelle and all the others at the dining facilities were part of my morning routine for years, and I appreciate you! The kids that work at the MUB were dynamite (pay them whatever they want, Nora!); many hours were spent there studying, relaxing and socializing.

Writing for The New Hampshire as a senior was incredible. What a great staff and contributing writers. I was able to do stories on Holocaust families, and also suicide (attempt) survivors and rescuers. As a big fan of “David and Goliath” stories, I was thrilled to do the article on last fall’s UNH Women’s Crew team gold medal victory at the Head of the Charles (River) Regatta. I literally got goose bumps interviewing the four women (plus David from the men’s team) as they described how their club team raced to victory against larger schools, including Division 1 teams.

Where do you find people like this? At UNH.

I had wanted to finish my college career in Hamilton Smith, where I started it in 2009. Now under renovation, I can remember my first English classes there. At first, I got what I call the “Two Heads Look” from the kids. They could not figure out what someone much older than they were was doing in class. So instead of sitting there all quiet, and having them guess if I was a professor or some judgmental older person, I decided to reach out to them and have fun. I would always talk sports with the young guys, and if the girls were outspoken I would maybe stage a fake argument, then give them the line from “The Brady Bunch Movie:” “Hey, Heidi, why don’t you jump back on to the package of Swiss Miss hot chocolate where you belong!” (And I would quickly make sure they knew I was kidding).

I told Emily, in my engineering class: “Your friends tell me you have a B.S. degree from MSU-the school for Making Stuff Up!”  Classes were a lot of fun.

I have applied for graduate school at UNH and hopefully can continue; I hope to see everyone in the fall. I’m sure I am leaving out people from my stories above, just remember all of the kids and faculty were great, and I will always remember you.

As a veteran and older student, I want to take a page from “Meet the Parents” and give the student body a Cinco de Mayo ( and upcoming summer) free activity briefing:

If you’re going to drink, don’t drive.

If you’re going to drive, don’t drink.

If you’re going downtown, don’t go alone.

Don’t text and drive.

Keep our campus looking clean and beautiful.

Get good grades, so you aren’t making $8.50 an hour when you are my age.

  If the Boston teams win a championship, don’t tip my Jeep over, I can’t afford a new one.

Take care of one another


If you’re 2 LEGIT, 2 LEGIT        2 Quit, Stay in School!



Douglas J. Rodoski

UNH senior/ Army veteran

UNH Wildcat forever!

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