Thousands of ECU students graduated this afternoon, but one student stood out. A Marine Corps veteran graduated from ECU.
Jarrod Smith, a father of three, a first sergeant in the National Guard and two deployments later, he is finally earning a degree in Anthropology. Smith is the first person to graduate in his family, and he says he’s not done with school.
“I am excited, it’s kind of in the gray area right now because I’m trying to figure out what is the next step because I plan on going for my masters actually,” explained Jarrod Smith.
When Smith returned from a deployment to Afghanistan, he realized he wanted to go back to school.
“I’m 44, so it’s never too late to go back to school and programs here at ECU have broadened my perspective on world events and issues and different things to that effect and to me it’s been a great experience,” said Jarrod Smith.
Smith’s wife, Holly, says she looks up to her husband for all of his hard work. She says it wasn’t easy for him to go back to school.
He’s a dad, a full time student, he’s my husband. It’s just been a lot where when I was a student, I was just a student,” explained Holly Smith.
Holly and her family watched from their seats at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium as her husband graduated. She said it’s a moment she won’t forget. Holly says her kids are benefiting from their dad getting a degree.
“For our children, for them to see the hard work and to see that even though he waited, that it was well worth the wait and their so proud of him,” said Holly Smith.
Even though Smith doesn’t know his next step, he feels grateful.
“To me I’m happy. I’ve met a mark that I wanted to meet and as far as my service, I just can’t put it into words. It’s just something I truly believe in,” said Jarrod Smith.