Back to Jobs & Education

Army veteran shares his journey

Evergreen State College offers veterans a unique educational experience

Evergreen graduate Roger Plenefisch, center, speaks with other veterans at Evergreen State College. Photo credit: Evergreen State College

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

Evergreen State College is an innovative and progressive liberal arts and sciences school with a student-centered learning environment. Along with many other students, Roger Plenefisch is passionate about making a difference in the world, and was attracted to the academic approach of Evergreen along with the resources available to veterans.

"Evergreen is a great place to go for vets because it's different -- it allows you to run your own show which is something they haven't done in a long time," Roger said.

Roger enlisted in the United States Army in February 2011, went through basic training at Fort Benning, and was then stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a quick jaunt from his hometown of Olympia.

In December 2011, Roger's unit was deployed to Afghanistan for 12 months. While he was deployed, he attended Colorado Technical University and, with the help of the Army Tuition Assistance Program and a lot of late nights studying, received his associates degree. Roger was humbled by his experience during his deployment and said, "It gives you a sense of perspective on the world; you come back to the United States from a deployment to a third-world country and you see all the waste that's happening here ... and so I think that drove my college ambitions."

After a medical discharge in 2014, Roger moved back to Olympia and enrolled at Evergreen.  "What Evergreen does is pull together all of your irks about the world, and then helps you focus on how to learn about the things that you can use to help fix those problems ...  you can start searching for answers to those problems if you learn the tools and how to do research, how to read articles in a way that allows you to form your own opinions."

Roger graduated from Evergreen this past July with a Bachelor of Arts, focusing on physics, as well as environmental and political science. Post graduation Roger said, "I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do, I have no idea what I want to do. So I'm doing a lot of Citizen Science experiments. I work with my daughter; we do a lot of fun kids science experiments together. Anybody can go out and do experiments with nature, it's useful to somebody. If everybody did this kind of tracking, we would start seeing shifts and patterns." Roger enjoys spending time in nature with his daughter Adeleigh, and studying galaxies.

During his time at Evergreen, Roger worked inside the Veteran Resource Center, an area of the school dedicated to helping veterans, dependents, and servicemembers. As a peer advisor, his tasks included answering questions about military education benefits and administrative inquiries, but also just being there for people.

"We hang out and talk to veterans. So, if a veteran is having an issue with something, or they're having a bad day or they just want to come hang out because they're having a good day and they want to share their good day. It doesn't really matter, they can just come hang out and we'll chat with them, just for the hell of it," Roger added.

Veterans Affairs offers many resources to veterans looking to further their education and careers, including the Post 911 GI Bill, which can cover up to 100 percent of your college tuition. 

Read next close

Jobs & Education

Ten tips I wish I would have done to depart the military

comments powered by Disqus