Hi, I'm Jason Stisser, a mathematics major from Nashville, and I'm one! I'm one of Tennessee's best and I want you to be one, too.
After spending the last several years in the United States Army, I chose to come home to Tennessee and Middle Tennessee State University. I was raised in Nashville and have been stationed all over the world with the military but middle Tennessee has always been home to me.
And MTSU was a good fit for me. It had both programs I wanted to study - math and military science. There are a lot of adult students on campus and a good number of veterans, too. I thought the transition from military life to college life would be less jarring here surrounded by so many other students like myself.
I enlisted in the Army in November of 2000 and left for basic training in June 2001. I served in the reserves from my enlistment to February 2005 before going active duty as a Cavalry Scout. I've been to Iraq twice. I enjoyed serving my country, but knew it was time to challenge myself further. I talked to my platoon leader and he recommended getting my education. After thinking about it, I decided to go for it. I applied for the Green to Gold program, a competitive scholarship process that would allow me to take an early out, get my bachelor's degree, and then return to the Army as a second lieutenant. The Army is paying for my entire education and I will have a job I love to go back to after I graduate.
After completing the Green and Gold application and being accepted to the program, I was back in the States and here at MTSU. I expected huge issues when I began the enrollment process because I was overseas and I had a limited amount of time to get things done. I didn't even start the admissions process until seven days PAST the deadline. When I called, I simply said I knew I was past the deadline but I needed an admissions decision in seven days. I had it. People went out of their way to help.
I was really blessed my first semester. Horace Stogner, an academic advisor on campus, helped me register for classes while I was still in Iraq. He helped me do everything I was supposed to do on campus while I was half a world away. I expected huge issues when enrolling at MTSU. That has been the attitude of just about everyone I have met or worked with on campus. They 've treated me as adult, as someone who knows what needs to be done and then have help to facilitate whatever I have needed. Transitioning out of Iraq is difficult. Transitioning out of the Army is difficult. Doing both at the same time while starting an educational career would have been impossible without the staff and faculty at MTSU.
The interaction in the classroom and on campus with other students has been the most surprising to me. I'm active in the R.O.T.C. program on campus. I work out with the Battalion; I go to class with them; I study with them; and I spend a great deal of my free time with them. If I am not in class or at home, I am in Forrest Hall. I find myself in the unique position of being a mentor to the younger students. Because of my experience in the field, I get a little leeway in the program to serve as a leader. It lets me still do what I really enjoy doing AND work with the younger students.
I can't say enough about the students with whom I work side-by-side in R.O.T.C. They are eager to learn and work incredibly hard. They are always asking me questions about Army life, about what it is like to serve our country, the conditions in Iraq, how field operations work, and other specific, quantifiable questions that show they are really thinking about military science and how it is applicable to real-world scenarios. They study hard, work hard, play hard, and train hard. They motivate themselves, each other, and me—even though I have been there and done that, I get a lot from our daily interactions. They have really taken to the Army lifestyle and it is going to be interesting to see how it turns out in four years—for them and for me.
The professors I have worked with so far have been amazing. Some have really gone out of their way to help me make the adjustment and to go from combat to classroom. Even the professors with whom I did not necessarily agree have been respectful to me as an adult. That is the most you can ask for from anyone. They have all been great.
I absolutely love Murfreesboro. I lived here before I went on active duty and my plan always was to move back here. I can be downtown on the Square enjoying all it has to offer and in 10 minutes, be in the middle of absolutely nowhere. This area is home to me and I really didn't consider going anywhere else when I came back to the States. And if I am middle Tennessee, where else am I going to go to school but Middle Tennessee? It has something for everyone, but more importantly, MTSU has just what I wanted.
Come be one of Tennessee's Best at Middle Tennessee State University. You'll be glad you did. I know I am.