Originally Featured in the Spring 2013 Newsletter
Sergeant Major Anthony Spadaro, 49, who continues his active duty service after twenty-seven years in the United States Marine Corps, has made his “virtual” way back from San Diego, California, to Rutgers-New Brunswick after three decades, all through the online degree completion program with the School of Management and Labor Relations. A graduate of St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, Sgt. Spadaro says, “I entered Rutgers in 1981 with three goals: to play lacrosse, to have fun, and to graduate. Achieving two out of three made me realize by 1984 that graduation was not in the cards. I entered the Marine Corps, and since that time I have truly served in ‘every clime and place’ throughout the world.” As the Sergeant Major of the Third Marine Aircraft serving as the senior enlisted leader to more than 18,000 personnel, Sgt. Spadaro recently returned from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan, which was his third combat deployment. At that time, he married, and he now resides in Carlsbad, California, with his wife, Kathryn, of two years.
Sgt. Spadaro admits that, “The maturity lacking 27 years ago has been replaced by a desire to achieve my life goals and to pursue further educational opportunities that will enhance my ‘second act’ upon retirement from the Marine Corps in 2015.” When asked about the challenges he encountered in trying to balance work, family, and education, Sgt. Spadaro commented, “There are no such things as challenges – only opportunities to confront and succeed.” Having been blessed with a second opportunity to attend Rutgers, he says, “In order to succeed, you have to find the balance which includes weighing work responsibilities with school responsibilities, often at the expense of personal time. One has to look for the reward in any endeavor. My work requirements involve extensive travel throughout the globe, so I have to find that balance between work and school. My reward will be to finally call myself a graduate of Rutgers.” He confesses that he is not the biggest fan of online learning and would much prefer to be in a real live classroom but, because of his geographical location, it is a means to an end: “The instructors involved in the on-line classes ensure enough involvement to make it feel like a ‘live’ classroom.” Sgt. Spadaro exclaims that his experience at Rutgers has been “INCREDIBLE”! The entire staff has been understanding and accommodating.”
As parting advice to all fellow veterans, adults and nontraditional learners, he says, “The key is to communicate early and often with your Professors because they are understanding and approachable. Students will gain so much more from their experience by communicating.” Sgt. Spadaro says that he still finds occasions for fun, but this time it is in “pursuit of the perfect golf course, the best groomed ski run, and the endless waves.”