Navy Veteran Engineers New Career Path at STLCC
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
After high school, Stephan Rutledge joined the U.S. Navy because he wanted to see the world. He also knew this decision would set him up on a path toward earning his college degree in the future.
For four years, Rutledge was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, on the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. He served as a personnel specialist, completing human resources tasks for enlisted service members, and working on some security and supply tasks.
According to Rutledge, the time he spent in the Navy changed his life.
“The military provided me with global perspective I never would have gotten otherwise,” he said. “Not only did I have the opportunity to meet different people from cultures, but I learned a lot about myself and grew as a person.”
When his contract ended in 2013, he chose to return home and focus on his education.
He enrolled at Lindenwood University, and in 2019, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. After graduation, he decided to launch his own photography company, but COVID-19 complicated his plans when people scaled back on non-essential spending.
That experience motivated him to pursue a different path – one in a high-wage, high-demand career field.
“While I enjoy communications, I’ve always had an interest in engineering,” he said. “I like fixing things; taking them apart and learning how they work. In addition to fixing computers and video games, I’m currently trying to master the ins and outs of the original Sony PlayStation console.”
To improve his skills, Rutledge enrolled in St. Louis Community College’s associate degree program in engineering in fall 2021. When he’s not taking classes at Wildwood or Meramec, he’s making time to get involved on campus, assisting with Wildwood's video and board game club. He's also spending time around other students who are fellow veterans.
“We have a close-knit group of veteran students on campus,” Rutledge said. “We like to get together to talk about our experiences in the military as well as how we’re doing in our classes. These connections are helping me stay motivated and focused on my goals at STLCC.”