Army Veteran Finds Opportunities at College of DuPage
By Jennifer Duda
When Shawn Scheirer’s military career ended, the 28-year-old east coast transplant and Darien resident knew higher education was his next step and applied without hesitation to College of DuPage.
“Anything deemed ‘military friendly’ was something I would definitely consider,” he said, adding that his girlfriend, Sara, had also taken classes at COD.
After high school, Scheirer turned down two offers to play college football and instead enlisted in the Army in 2004. The decision was based partly on family history – several members of his family served in the military – and partly on a sense of obligation to serve his country.
During his initial deployment to Baghdad in 2006, Scheirer injured his knee. The injury worsened, subsequently causing a spine injury during his second stint in Iraq from 2009 to 2010.
“Even looking back on the injuries that eventually pulled me out of service, I don’t regret it at all,” he said. “You have to fight for something, and if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, you shouldn’t be doing it.”
At College of DuPage, Scheirer is taking that way of thinking and applying it to the next phase of his life. Enrolled in the College’s Paralegal Studies program, the full-time student plans to pursue a career in law. He’s also currently working as an intern for State Representative Sandra Pihos.
“I met Sandy when she was (at the College) as a guest speaker,” Scheirer said. “I challenge everything and asked her a number of questions about veteran issues. After class we were talking about my injuries and how they made it difficult to find a job. We discussed my interest in law and the internship came from that.”
Scheirer does a variety of work at Pihos’ office, including accompanying the legislator to various functions.
“I learn so much from her interactions with her constituents,” he said. “She cares so much about the people in her district and works very hard at her job. I’ve never seen someone work so hard and it’s great to be a part of that.”
Working and studying is different than the life he knew in the army, but Scheirer said he’s enjoying his time at the College and interacting with other former military members through COD’s Student Veterans Association.
“It’s great to be able to talk with peers who truly understand where you came from. I feel like I’m still trying to get back into the civilian mentality. I went from a group that worked together for a common goal, but had to relearn that civilians are much more self-centered in their thinking. I believe in paying it forward and I want to be part of something that’s greater than me and I’m working toward that.”
For more information on COD’s Veterans Services office, visit www.cod.edu/admission/veterans/index.aspx.
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