From grunts to undergraduates, Marines deploy to Stanford
They were Marine "grunts" in Iraq and Afghanistan and now they're undergraduates at one of the world's most prestigious universities.
By one count, there are 10 military veterans among the roughly 7,000 undergraduates at Stanford University. Of those 10, seven are Marines.
The Marines are determined to make the most of their time at the rarefied atmosphere of the place called The Farm.
William Treseder, 28, and Chris Clark, 25, are developing a consulting firm to work with the military on its energy policies both stateside and for deployed units.
Sebastian Gould, 22, may write a thesis on the World War II experiences of French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre. He's also considering graduate school in philosophy, although, as a reservist, he may yet deploy to Afghanistan.
Guez Salinas, 35, has created an application for smart phones to better enable music sharing through social media. Gabriel Zamora, 28, plans to work with Salinas.
"You want to go to Wall Street, you go to Harvard," Salinas said. "You want to be an entrepreneur, you come to Stanford."
Chuck Stern, 27, is getting two degrees simultaneously: a bachelor's in English and a master's in communications.
Their warzone experiences set them apart from other students. And sometimes lead to questions and mini-debates about the wars and U.S. foreign policy.
Gould remembers one conversation that "basically devolved into calling me a child-killer because I decided to enlist."
Stern, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has a tactic for fellow students who want to somehow hold him responsible for U.S. strategy. "I give them a lecture and try to break down their ability to make judgments," he said. "They're part of the system that elects people that make the policy."
Treseder has asked Stanford officials to assist veterans in the admission process.
"We need a program to allow veterans to compete for admission against students who've spent the last nine years of their lives studying to take the SAT," he said.
--Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Sgt. William Treseder, far right, in Afghanistan. He is now a senior at Stanford University. Credit: William Treseder