Student Spotlight 2023: Devin Petropoulos, U.S. Navy

Tell us about yourself.

I am from Batavia, Illinois, and served in the United States Navy as an optician. I joined the military to open up more opportunities for myself. I was going to go to college for accounting after high school, but I didn’t have the funds to go and didn’t want the debt tied to going to college. This led me to take a chance on the military and see what they could offer. They only offered me the medical field, so that is what I went into with the hope of seeing the world and opening as many avenues as possible. A fun fact about myself is that I played rugby for five years. Three years in high school and two years for a NATO team in Italy. 

Why did you decide to participate in WSP this summer, and was there a shift in your confidence level from the first day of the course to the last day?

I had friends that I served with who went through the program a couple of years prior, and they told me I had to do the program. I saw what WSP did for them and how beneficial it was, and I wanted to see what I could gain and bring to the Warrior-Scholar community. 

Although I earned my associate’s degree in applied health sciences from American Military University online, I was not confident on the first day of the course at Syracuse University. It was intimidating to take the chance, and I didn’t know if I had the skillsets to do well. I was much more confident by the end of the two weeks. I felt comfortable discussing ideas with my peers and took chances to address the hard questions and topics. I also enhanced my networking skills and gained the confidence to improve my networking capabilities.

What were some key insights you gained during your course, and what is your biggest takeaway?

I gained the concept that my ideas can truly help others. Having conversations with people who are different than myself can help me become more well-rounded. The military gives you that community to challenge yourself in that way, and when you get out, you tend to fall back into the habits you had before joining. Having WSP’s military community around you is a comfort and allows you to open up and appreciate the diversity and keep the work hard, play hard mentality. Those are the types of people I want around me in my future, whether they’re military or civilian. 

My biggest takeaway from the course was time management. Not only in the sense that you get your tasks done on time but also to take the time to make sure you take care of the people around you. The community you build around you is just as important as your degree path.

How would you describe your overall experience?

Experimental! I had no idea how I would do in the course, and I don’t have a black-and-white path on what I want to do with my degree. My plan is very fluid at the moment, and I took WSP as an opportunity to challenge and better myself. WSP gave me more tools to put in my tool belt and has made me better in all facets of education and communication. Successful people surround themselves with successful people, and WSP has given me access to that.

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