Posted on: May 5, 2017
By Allen Wallace, WALLACJ7@mailbox.sc.edu
As a military veteran, husband and father, Reggie Regester’s walk across the graduation stage has taken longer to get to than some students. But on May 5 he will leave the University of South Carolina with a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary studies and the satisfaction of knowing his academic mission is complete.
The present and future are looking exceptionally bright for Regester, as he and his wife (an active duty soldier herself) await the arrival of their second child and celebrate his graduation, with family gathering in Columbia from as far away as California for the occasion. The road here was not always easy, but Regester overcame each challenge.
"I attempted college the first time around and it didn't go well for me,” he said. “So, I joined the Army and did my growing up."
He was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, stationed at Ft. Hood in Texas before deploying to Iraq for a year. He learned new skills and trained as an x-ray technician. Regester planned to stay in the Army, but after seven years of service he found himself searching for a new direction and feeling prepared to give college another try.
While stationed in Texas, Regester planned holiday and special occasion events for his unit. "I've always loved it," he said. That love brought him to USC’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. He was originally interested in the hospitality management major but his advisor told him about the school’s interdisciplinary studies program which allowed him to make the best possible use of his military training and previous credits earned.
"He saved me about a year of time and tuition by aligning my experience with the right program," Regester said.
Returning to college a decade older than many of his classmates, Regester thought being a student again could be odd. But it was a natural fit.
"I learned through the military the value of passing on knowledge,” he said. “I've been able to talk to a lot of students and offer them insight."
That insight includes advice on life, not just what to do in the classroom. "Take life slow. Enjoy your youth – but don’t waste it," he said. "You don't have to know exactly what you want right now, but keep working toward something until you figure it out."
After finding a new career path and staying committed to his college degree goals, figuring it out is something that Regester can speak to from experience. He has proved as soldier and student that he knows how to get a job done and is looking forward to his next mission as a college graduate and hospitality professional.