International Relations Major
"It's interesting seeing the points of view of my younger classmates. It's refreshing."
When Dmitriy Yurganov learned he was being released from active duty in the Army, he knew it was time for college. He had only completed a year at a community college before enlisting at age 19. Now 24, Yurganov was ready to move onto the next step in his life.
While still on active duty in Oklahoma, he requested leave to begin his college search back in Maryland, where he had grown up after moving from Minsk, Belarus, when he was seven years old. When the request was approved, Yurganov began researching schools and zeroed in on Goucher.
Several of his friends were students at Goucher, and he was intrigued by the Goucher II program, which offers adults an opportunity to complete or begin their undergraduate studies as either part-time or full-time students. Goucher II students enroll in the same rigorous course of study offered to traditional-aged undergraduates and are held to the same high academic standards.
"It's nice because I don't have to take the Frontiers program that all the first-year and transfer students have to take," Yurganov said. "Plus, I get support from Ms. Amalia Honick, the Goucher II program director."
Honick sends out helpful e-mails and reminders about academic, extracurricular, and study-abroad meetings and programs.
Goucher was also appealing because of its participation in the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program. A provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, the program provides matching funds from the Department of Veterans Affairs as a supplement to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which covers tuition and fees equal to the most expensive public campus tuition in a given state.
Yurganov was impressed when Andrew Westfall, Goucher's new registrar at the time, made an appointment with the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure he understand all the ins and outs of the program.
With only a week between leaving active duty and starting classes, Yurganov didn't have a lot of time to mentally transition from military to college life. But in the end, he believes his structured military mindset helped him ease into academic life.
"You just take the organization that you had and apply it to school," he said. "It was a pretty easy transition."
Yurganov said he hasn't had a problem fitting in with Goucher's traditional-age students and has joined the intramural flag football and soccer teams. He said the students have been respectful and don't question him about this military background.
After spending years in the military with "a certain type of people," Yurganov said he enjoys the diversity of Goucher's students.
"It's interesting seeing the points of view of my younger classmates," he said. "It's refreshing."
He also appreciates that many of Goucher's teachers come from different cultural and academic backgrounds.
"The teachers are really good," Yurganov said. "Some are classical scholars, and some are previous Goucher students. I like that it's very diverse in the way that you have [teachers who are] Australians, Americans, Israelis - from different backgrounds teaching in one institution."
Yurganov is majoring in international relations with minors in history and Russian. He's hoping to meld his military background with his major to get a job with the U.S. Department of State, the Defense Intelligence Agency, or the U.S. Department of Defense upon graduation.
During the summer, Yurganov had an internship with the Army in which he took a human intelligence collectors course. The program taught him interviewing and interrogation techniques, as well as how to cultivate sources.
"It was a big difference from what I was doing on active duty, which was nice," Yurganov said. "It was a good transition taking those skills [learned on active duty] and applying them over here, especially the technical knowledge."
The program wasn't a traditional internship, but the Career Development Office (CDO) and Eric Singer, chair of the Political Science and International Relations Department, worked with Yurganov so he could get full credit for the internship.
Yurganov said he really appreciated what the CDO and Singer did to help him. He feels that Goucher's faculty and staff understand his situation and are willing to work with him so he can succeed.
His advice for other students like him: "Go into it full speed. Don't waiver; don't play around with taking a semester off. Do as much as you can and put full effort into it."
Yurganov's own commitment is about to pay off. By loading up on summer and winter classes, he is hoping to graduate in 2012 - a year early.
"I already have the military experience, and then I'll have the college experience. I'll be ready to move onto whatever's next," he said.