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New grad ready to soar as commissioned officer in U.S. Marine Corps

| Judy Berthiaume

Photo caption: Chad Schultz’s May graduation from UW-Eau Claire means he now can be commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Since he already graduated from the Marine Corps’ Officer Candidate School, he now will go to Virginia for six months of training before attending flight school to become a Marine Corps aviator.

Plenty of Blugolds use their degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to help them soar as they launch their professional careers.

Chad Schultz is taking that idea a step further than most of his fellow Blugolds, however. Soon he literally will be soaring as he attends flight school in Florida as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Schultz earned a degree in marketing and a minor in management from UW-Eau Claire in May, which, fittingly, is National Military Appreciation Month.

The Eau Claire native already has graduated from the Marine Corps’ Officer Candidate School.

With his bachelor’s degree in hand, Schultz now will be commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps before going to Virginia for six months of training at The Basic School. When that training is complete, he will attend flight school and start his contract as a Marine Corps aviator.

While he will not immediately put his business degree to use, Schultz says his time studying at UW-Eau Claire has been invaluable in helping him prepare for his career in the military.

“UWEC was a gateway for me to explore new ideas, organizations and opportunities,” Schultz says. “My time in college was a maturing process in which new ideas and great people, both friends and professors, helped me develop my character.”

Finding his path

Eau Claire native Chad Schultz (left) graduated from the Marine Corps’ Officer Candidate School after completing the program during two summers.

Eau Claire native Chad Schultz (left) graduated from the Marine Corps’ Officer Candidate School after completing the program during two summers.

Schultz has long been interested in serving in the military and considered several different branches as he finished high school. Ultimately, he decided to earn a college degree first, and then revisit his military options.

“Then, in my sophomore year of college, I stumbled across a military program,” Schultz says. “I did my research, and I was intrigued. I followed up with the Marine Corps selection officer about the program. I trained for about a year before I was selected by the board to attend officer candidate school.”

He completed the platoon leaders’ course option, attending the Officer Candidate School in the summers of 2019 and 2020.

His Officer Candidate School training prepared him to eventually serve in a leadership role in military, but it also helped him excel in college, Schultz says.

“While Officer Candidate School instilled in me strong discipline and focus, what I noticed most was a change in perception,” Schultz says. “Things that I considered to be problems, or I had previously deemed stressful, weren’t anymore.

“I suppose I would describe it as understanding the fact that some things are out of your control, and whatever the result, life goes on and you take it from there. This mindset is not to be mistaken for apathy, but rather knowing where and when to direct your focus and energy.”

Studying business at UW-Eau Claire

Both of Schultz’s parents operated or managed businesses when he was growing up, so he had an up-close look at the kinds of opportunities that might be available to him if he studied business in college.

“I decided to get a business degree due to a variety of practical factors, including that a business degree offers significant flexibility in the U.S. job market,” Schultz says. “However, I specifically chose marketing because it allows me to be analytical and creative, and I chose management for its leadership aspects.”

Once he settled on a major, he knew he would enroll at UW-Eau Claire.

“UWEC has an excellent business program, and I thought it wise not to overlook the gem in my backyard,” Schultz says. “Being a local also offered me some financial advantage because I wasn’t required to live in a dorm my freshman year.”

Outside the College of Business, Schultz also found a plethora of interesting courses, especially in the humanities. The class topics were interesting, and what he learned in them will be useful in his military career as well as a future career in business, he says.

“I’ve always had a passion for history and the sciences,” Schultz says. “History is a fascinating topic on its own, watching power shifts and global maps change. However, most people fail to understand how applicable it is to modern events. As cliché as the quote is, ‘Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it,’ which is why this field of study holds significant importance to me in my future military career.

“Science, more specifically physics, is a field that always entertained me because of the simple question, ‘Why?' On a basic level, I enjoy knowing and understanding how the world works around me.”

Making connections outside the classroom

Since he was living at home to save money during his freshman year, Schultz had fewer opportunities to connect with other Blugolds outside of the classroom. That changed when friends introduced him to Greek life, he says.

“Though I had my doubts, I decided to investigate it,” Schultz says of fraternities. “I almost immediately fell in love with the fraternity Delta Tau Delta; its members were composed of diverse backgrounds, both socioeconomically and ethnically. Many held opposing ideas, yet they were a family. Apart from this, the organization offered a variety of opportunities in the community ranging from service-learning to local and national altruistic efforts.

“The members of Delta Tau Delta and its values played a strong part in my college experience. I was fortunate enough to take an active role in the organization and enjoyed the opportunity to mentor new, younger members.”

Advice for future Blugolds

Schultz says he encourages younger or future Blugolds to pursue experiences as well as a degree during their years on campus.

“Though your college education may not directly correlate to your professional career, it is an experience that develops you as a person,” Schultz says of college. “While I won’t have the opportunity to use my degree for at least 10 years, I wouldn’t trade my college experience for the world. It’s a culmination of priceless experiences both in and out of the classroom.”