All posts by Mare Grohowski

Jennifer Rachels

I’m a second-semester PhD student in the Department of Social Sciences. I’m also a teaching assistant, but I’m doing more than that—spending a lot of time with students. It’s just the nature of the job experience I’ve had thus far that makes it easy for me. I really enjoy it.

I’m originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but I moved here from Honolulu, where I lived for eight years because of the Army. They sent me there and then I refused to leave. I was a 12N [an enlisted heavy equipment operator]—which in these wars means drive ‘til you hit something—and a chaplain’s assistant. I deployed to Afghanistan and spent a little bit of time in Kuwait as well.

After being in Hawai’i eight years, I was ready to continue graduate school, but they didn’t have the programs I needed. So that’s how I got here. And then here I am. Literally, here I am. Like it sort of happened that way. I applied to a few other programs before knowing about Michigan Tech. I needed a GRE score. I took the GRE and at the end they ask you, “Click the box if you want to hear from other schools.” So I heard from Michigan Tech. And I looked at it and was like, ”Why didn’t this come up in my exhaustive searches for programs? Cuz it hadn’t.” And then it went from being, ”Oh, I’ll apply here, too,” to my top choice in three weeks. And it moved fast, too. With other places I applied, there was this long process, and I had to be approved to even apply. With Tech, I applied and then I knew something about six weeks later. Like, in December I applied, May I got out of the Army, and June I moved here.

I love living here. Love it. I grew up in a combination of Atlanta and the wilderness of Georgia. And then ya know, I was in the Peace Corps as well, and then lived in Honolulu, so I’m like used to being outside doing different, interesting things. I’ve never been in a place like this. It’s not just snowy like it has snowed; no, like it snows every day. And people get outside in it [the snow]. The weather is not your enemy; it’s a huge adventure to me.

I live a blessed life. It is amazing. My grandpa couldn’t read. I’m first generation college student. It’s mind-blowing. I think most of my family has no concept of what I’m doing. “Is she lazy? We don’t know.”

#mymichigantech #mtuhumans #SoldierScholar #studentveteran #GIBIll #womenveteran


Curt and Rachel Eikenberry

Two or three years ago when Curt was out for two months because of a disease, I found out we were called Grandma and Grandpa Wads.

I’m Curt Eikenberry and that’s Rachel. We’ve been here since 2013. We’ve seen a lot of ’em come and go. The joke was, we moved up here for our grandkids and now we’ve got a thousand of ’em!

Rachel: He’s got their names down. And because he traveled so much downstate in former work, he knows all the little teeny tiny towns.

Curt: Where the little towns are.

Rachel: A few years ago he asked a kid, “Where are you from?” Finally, the kid said “Twining,” and Curt said, “Well I know where that is. There’s a John Deere dealership…”

Curt: He went and got a whole bunch of friends from that town and said, “Do you know what? He knows where…” So then there was four of ’em that came and talked to me! But that’s part of what we do: by having two of us we let—if anybody needs to talk or wants to talk, we can.

Rachel: And they do want to talk. When it first started happening it was like—we looked at one another and said “I really didn’t need to know that. But they needed to get rid of it.” So we were the ears that heard it! And it has to be the two of us because during those two months that he was not here, I didn’t have time to do that kind of thing.

Curt: Something we do is try to watch for kids who are struggling and get ‘em hooked up with whatever. Sooner or later I’m not going to catch somebody; so far I’ve been able to catch everybody, as far as I know anyway. I’m sure there’s a lot of other stuff we don’t catch up on. We see ’em probably more than anybody other than their roommate on campus on any given day…

Rachel: …the kids that are in and out of here. In terms of what else we do, I crochet. In the summertime before Tech is out, we do a lot of gardening. We have been able to raise a lot of the vegetables that we eat so we don’t need to buy any: carrots, potatoes, red beets, rutabagas, spinach, green beans.

Curt: We used to go home during our break. Rachel: Now we nap [or read] downstairs.

#mtuhumans


Ronald Praet, Jr.

I’m a fourth-year sports and fitness management major who realized the value of a college education while growing up in a low-income family. The first in my family to pursue a four-year college degree, I’ve experienced many financial and academic challenges. Because of my upbringing, my college journey has been more on the non-traditional side. I was enrolled in public education until seventh grade, when my parents pulled me out to be home-schooled. It was also my responsibility to help take care of my two siblings, father, and the family home, while my mother took care of elderly members of our family.

It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I was able to go to L’Anse Creuse Adult Education School to get my high school diploma. I received a partial scholarship from the school to attend Macomb Community College where I took courses for a few years, while continuing to help my family at home. I completed my associate degree in computer electronics engineering at ITT Technical Institute. Later, I attended Wayne State University to pursue a career that I would love. But I found it difficult to stay focused on school while the demands of home were ever present.

Now I’m enrolled at Michigan Tech. I felt at home here from the minute I stepped on campus. I knew right away that this was where I would be able to focus and make my dream of getting a four-year degree come true. My career goal—working my way up to one day becoming a coach in the National Hockey League—was finally within reach.

At age 32 I joined the National Guard, even though I would have to take a year off to fulfill my military obligations. My Tech spirit and work ethic allowed me to push harder when I found adversity. I made the Dean’s List that semester, and I graduated boot camp with highest honors. I have three semesters left before I get to walk across the stage to receive my diploma.

While attending one of my first hockey games here at Tech, I met a woman named Allison. That was almost three-and-a-half years ago. We’ve been together ever since. I wanted to begin the new chapter in our lives where it all began.

#mtuhumans #shesaidyes