Valpo Fit the Bill

“The premise of the academic environment made it worth considering.”

Transcript for Valpo Fit the Bill

I had competed for the military service academies, and I had a stack of scholarship offers all across the United States as a National Merit Scholar, but I also participated in the selection process for the military academies, and my goal was to go to the Air Force Academy. So, with the selection of the criteria for the Air Force Academy, the guy across town beat me out by a quarter of a point. The congressman had two appointments available: one to West Point, and one to the main Air Force Academy. The guy across town wanted to go to West Point, I wanted to go to the Air Force Academy, so life was good. So he and I became friends and we started talking about why each of us wanted to go to the respective military academies. And he said, well, he’s always wanted to be a soldier, so, well, I wanted to fly airplanes, so I wanted to go to the Air Force Academy. So he thought about it, and at the last minute, like in early May, he decided that he didn’t want to go to West Point, he wanted to go to the Air Force Academy. So because he had the higher score, the congressman gave him the choice. So, at that point, here I am, West Point or find someplace to go to school. So, the counselors, uh, got wind of the information, they said that there’s a school coming to town, uh, and asked me what my criteria was. I said I wanted to go to school in a small town, near a big city, not too far from home, that was good in engineering. They said, “We’ve got just the school.” And I said, “What’s the name of the school?” “Valparaiso.” I said, “Where is Valparaiso?” They said, “Indiana, about thirty miles south of Chicago.” So two of the criteria were met: near a big city and a school. I said, how’s the engineering program ranked? They said, “They’re ranked number twenty in electrical engineering programs, the top twenty.” So I met with the people – the admissions team that was traveling around – and they made an offer, and I said, “Well, I’ll take it.”

At that point in time Valpo had, in conjunction with Washington University had engineering programs that you could decide which area of concentration you were gonna do, so my intent was to do the aeronautical engineering, so I was gonna go to Valpo first and then maybe transfer some point down the road. So, Valpo fit the bill and I showed up at Valparaiso.

This is the 1960s. The country was going through a whole lot of racial considerations and, uh, problems, et cetera, so Valpo was kind of like a mirror image of a lot of places in the United States at that time. When I arrived into town, there were some signs at some places that were obviously discriminatory, and we had a very limited number of minority students on the campus. We had, I think, like eight students when I got here, out of, I think, about three thousand maybe total students. So, it was kinda like, okay, you’re in a very, very isolated place, isolated geographically, isolated culturally, et cetera. But the premise of the academic environment made it worth considering.

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