Navy veteran finds lifelong friendships at UBalt
When Patrick Gengler arrived at The University of Baltimore, a thought familiar to practically any new college student permeated his mind: Will I make any friends here?
Thanks to UBalt's veteran and military community, it didn't take long for Gengler, a B.S. in Business Administration, Data Analytics student, and U.S. Navy veteran, to find his place. In his first year at UBalt, Gengler became president of the UBalt Student Veterans of America and a veteran ambassador for The Bob Parsons Veterans Center.
"As a veteran, having a place to go where you know others have a similar background and are going through similar things is invaluable," he said. "The familiarity with even one aspect of someone's life makes that initial connection so much easier."
The veterans center, located on the third floor of the UBalt Student Center, was established by its namesake donor, alumnus and Marine Corps veteran Bob Parsons, who wanted UBalt to be a national model for serving veteran students.
He transferred to UBalt from Anne Arundel Community College. Now a father to a 1-year-old girl, Gengler needed a university that could fit his classes in his tight schedule.
Between the flexibility of classes offered outside the typical 9-to-5 timeline and an easy commute, UBalt became his top choice. More intimate class sizes also appealed to Gengler.
"The professors here care," he said. "I'm still in contact with some professors from my first semester here."
Gengler started his college education on a different path than where he found himself. He initially pursued mechanical engineering in community college. After hitting a wall with one of the required courses, he decided to take his interest in math another direction—data analytics.
"I like the math side of data, and the fact that you can look at trends and almost see the future," he said. "Data is not that different from meteorology, right? We've been studying what happens with the weather patterns for years and years, and you can do the same thing with a giant set of data. I think it's fascinating."
Gengler is considering a career in financial services but leaving his options open to see where his final year leads him.
Meanwhile, he's enjoying all he can get out of college beyond the degree at the end. Mostly for Gengler, that has been the opportunities and friendships he's found at UBalt's veterans center.
"I've met a lot of people outside of the classroom here, and I think they're going to be lifelong friendships."