Get married. Have kids. Retire. Go to college.
Not exactly the typical order to do things, but 38-year-old Martin Lowrey, retired from the Army, is now a freshman on campus.
He has his reasons for doing things backward, as some would say.
“When I was in the Army, you could take classes at night and on weekends, but I would have to sacrifice time with family, and I wasn’t willing to do that after two deployments to Iraq and missing both of my children’s many firsts,” he said.
He is seeking a degree for certification to teach high school history and said he knew the university was good, and even better, it was close to home.
Recently retired, Lowrey was in the Army for 20 years.
“I served as a SWAT marksman/observer my first seven years and K9 handler for the next 10. I was a platoon sergeant for two years and housing enforcement NCO for my last year,” he said.
While Lowrey may be retired, he has a wife and two children, which means balancing being a student, husband and father.
“It is difficult at times, but my wife and I work together around our schedules and our kids’ schedules,” he said.
To adjust to his new life at UMHB, Lowrey participated in Welcome Week.
“It gave me an opportunity to meet students that I may not have met and build camaraderie with people. … It helped my family find a church closer to our home,” he said.
Senior finance major Chris Whitehead was part of Lowrey’s Welcome Week family. He was a little taken aback upon meeting him.
“My first impression was, ‘Man, this guy is kind of older. How is he going to keep up with all of this?’” he said.
Whitehead’s perception changed drastically.
“By the end of Welcome Week, this guy was keeping up with everyone and with even more energy and excitement than the younger students. I almost forgot that he was even older than us,” he said.
Whitehead thinks Lowrey’s age brought some diversity to the Welcome Week group.
“His military past showed at times through the week, and he was fun to be around,” he said.
The group bonded well with Lowrey, even giving him the name Ditka, an inside joke about his love for the Chicago Bears.
Sophomore social work major Kristen Kimmel was shocked when she met Lowrey during Welcome Week.
“I couldn’t believe he was a freshman. I was also surprised to hear he was 38 and had been in the Army for 20 years,” she said.
Kimmel said he became a new student just like the rest of them, and she looks up to him.
“I very much admire the fact that he’s going to school … because most people wouldn’t. He’s a great friend, and I was privileged to be in his group,” she said.
Through his involvement in Welcome Week, Lowrey joined an intramural flag football team, and he isn’t intimidated by the younger students.
He said, “I love football … and I can see if I can keep up with these young kids. To quote Carl Basheer, ‘it is not if I can keep up with these young people it is can they keep up with me.’”