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University Of Oklahoma Student Owes His Academic Successes To The Marines

Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit attached to Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion 4th Marines (BLT 1/4) and Combat Logistics Battalion 15 (CLB-15) stand at “parade rest” during a 235th United States Marine Corps birthday ceremony.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Russell
U.S. Naval Forces, 7th Fleet Public Affairs

After serving in the U.S. military, many veterans use the benefits afforded under the GI Bill to pay for school. The opportunity to have education paid for is a major draw for some, but the military isn’t a good fit for everyone.

Jared Kuntz joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2008 after trying a few different majors at the University of Oklahoma, and firefighter training, hoping he would find a career. Then the 2008 recession hit, the job prospects disappeared and the military seemed like his best option.

"At that point I just wanted to get out and go see something and that was the easy way to do it,” Kuntz said.

It didn’t take long for Kuntz to realize he wasn’t going to stay in the Marines forever.

“When you come out of boot camp, you're full of fire and everybody thinks that's what they're going to do for life, but very quickly reality sets in,” Kuntz said. “I'd say most people know within a year, and I knew four years was plenty for me.”

For Kuntz, one of the most valuable things his military experience gave him was knowledge of the things he didn’t want to do as a career.

“There's not a whole lot I enjoyed about the job in the military,” Kuntz said. “I love the Marines - the people I served with - but the job itself I pretty much want to get as far away from that as possible.”

His military service has significantly altered his outlook on going to college. When he first came to OU straight out of high school he was going through the motions, following the path he had been told to take. Now he has more drive and direction.

“I have a reason I'm doing this which I didn't have before,” Kuntz said. “And on top of that, I would say the military was very good at training me to take knowledge that I had learned and actually apply it somewhere, rather than just viewing it as answering blanks on a test form.”

Kuntz now has a different view of his classwork than his civilian counterparts.

“Everybody has a late assignment every now and again, but I don't think I have and if I ever did I would feel terrible about it,” Kuntz said. “Which would have absolutely been a possibility before going to the military. I see it as mission completion. And you don't just do it, do it well.”

Kuntz isn’t sure if he would do it all again given the chance. Although there were many elements of military life he disliked, he can’t deny how much the experience shaped him into who he is.

“If I hadn't spent those four years doing that, who would I be today?” Kuntz wonders. “I know I wouldn't be who I am. That much I can say and I like who I am, quite frankly.”

Kuntz is currently double majoring in linguistics and computer science - two areas he has always been fascinated with. He plans on graduating in May 2017.

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