Dordt College News

Wilson adjusts to civilian life

May 18, 2011

Agriculture and business major Caleb Wilson grew up on a farm in a small Iowa town.

Although he shares this background with several other Dordt students, one part of his background is very different from theirs.

When he enrolled at Dordt at the beginning of the spring term, he had completed just over six years of service in the United States Army.

Caleb Wilson loves being back on the farm following his time in Iraq. Hes currently balancing his farm work with taking classes in agriculture.Wilson joined the army in the summer of 2004 and was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was deployed to Iraq three times before he received an honorable discharge in October 2010. He returned to his hometown of Paullina, Iowa, and spent a few months readjusting to civilian life before enrolling at Dordt.

In addition to being a full-time student, Wilson is currently an apprentice for his uncle, who works with livestock. After graduating, Wilson hopes to become a livestock producer and contract his products through restaurants. 

“I had an older cousin who had gone to Dordt, so that’s always been in the back of my mind,” explains Wilson. “Also, I missed being back in Iowa because of the mentality and values, which are so different from the military lifestyle.”

Meanwhile, he has also had to readjust to being in a classroom. “It’s tough getting back into the studying habit,” Wilson remarks. “I need to relearn things like how to take proper notes. It’s definitely a mental sweat.”

Although going back to school after six years in the military is a challenge, Wilson says the biggest challenge is relating to his peers. Although Wilson, a freshman, is older than most of his classmates, his vastly different experiences and perspectives make the distance even greater.

“There are guys being rotated through Iraq and Afghanistan constantly, and that’s all they can ever think about. That’s all they know. A lot of them are just praying for another day,” Wilson says. “Meanwhile, people here take so many things for granted.”

Wilson explains that his experiences in the military have taught him to put his life in perspective. He came out of the military valuing God, family, and country.  He is particularly thankful for the support of his family: “My family has been incredibly important in helping me to maintain morale and keep my head above water.”

Yet, despite the challenges Wilson has experienced in his return to Northwest Iowa and to the classroom, he has been enjoying his college experience. He’s also prepared to take on whatever new challenges come his way: “Life gets hard sometimes. You’ve just got to hold on tight and enjoy the ride.”


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