WSU student balances military, family and school

Jayrod Garrett is a National Guard serviceman, husband, campus employee, and former honors and BIS senator. He is also a

(Photo by: Tyler Brown) Jayrod Garrett
(Photo by: Tyler Brown) Jayrod Garrett

nontraditional student who has overcome many obstacles to get his associate’s degree this semester.

To be considered a nontraditional student, one must be a veteran, 25 or older, married, a parent, and/or be widowed or divorced. Garrett fills three of these requirements, so he is nontraditional in more ways than one.

Higher education institutions across the country are seeing a change in their student population. Given the economic downturn, more and more people are turning toward education to secure their personal and fiscal futures. WSU is following suit, finding more than half of its enrollment in nontraditional students.

Many students struggle to balance their extracurricular lives with their academic ambitions. With his many commitments, Garrett is no exception.

“One of the most difficult aspects of being a nontraditional student is trying to balance work and school,” Garrett said. “I’m in the National Guard, so I’m away some weekends. I’ll be putting in eight-hour days down there, and then come back and work part-time and go to school full-time. A lot of nontraditional students feel the pinch in their schedule.”

Despite the mounting obstacles, Garrett will graduate with his associate degree at the end of the month.

“My degree opens up my ability to get jobs,” he said. “It opens doors to you to find employment that you couldn’t otherwise. I’m pursuing what my dreams are, degree or otherwise.”

Though his associate’s degree is an accomplishment, Garrett’s not finished at WSU.

“The jobs I’m most interested in require a bachelor’s,” he said. “Without my study, they won’t even consider me.”

Garrett’s degree is more than a piece of paper. He has worked through a good deal of adversity to obtain it.

“I’d always wanted to college,” he said. “I jumped in and started going. In that time I’ve been deployed twice. I want to be someone who can say that I got a degree. I want to lay a legacy of education for my children.”

Support is available for nontraditional students in the Nontraditional Student Center, located next to the testing center on the Shepherd Union Building’s third floor.