Sergeant Derlis Carrasquillo enlisted in the U.S. Army five years ago with the goals of finishing his college degree and gaining more experience in the technology field. He chose satellite communication, which was an easy transition because of the technological background that he gained while working for AT&T and Sprint, and as a retail store manager.
He is an August 2013 graduate of Upper Iowa University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a 3.87 GPA. He is currently stationed at Fort Riley, Kan., home of the 1st Infantry Division, the oldest division in the Army.
Carrasquillo chose Upper Iowa University for his college education after weighing various educational options available to soldiers. “There are only two real choices for a rigorous college program at Fort Riley,” he said. “Upon researching the other state colleges close by, I found the education process to be very hard for the U.S. soldier. Many instructors would not come to Fort Riley even though that college is just down the road. I found many courses would require me to drive into campus at times that were not readily available for my military schedule. So, I looked into UIU and found that the school was a great fit for my schedule and the rigorousness that I was looking for academically. The main reason for picking UIU was that it was known for being a thought-provoking and challenging school, which is what I wanted. Especially since I knew in the future I would be competing against other students from Ivy League schools in the job market, and I wanted to know with confidence that my academic preparation was comparable with other institutions of higher learning. Having a college that challenged me academically was vital in achieving my future goals.”
“The fabric that seems to be woven through the UIU classes is the steadfast commitment to pushing students toward more than they think is possible. Classes were difficult and fair. The professors ensured that students mastered future skills and not just grades,” he added. “I am confident that I have been prepared to conquer anything I set my mind to do; and I have been taught to become a life-long learner.”
Carrasquillo’s military career includes a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom to Kirkuk, Iraq, from October 2010 through September 2011 as the senior satellite communication noncommissioned officer for 1-1 BSTB Network Operations. He stated, “Satellite communication is an integral part of how the military communicates on the battlefield. It allows for swift communication anywhere in the world and gives the user services that are vital to a successful mission. I am proud of my career field and how my services empower our leaders to make good decisions on the battlefield with up-to-date information. I am passionate about what I do. I have always believed if you’re not passionate about what you do then stop doing it. Life is too short to just collect a paycheck!”
Due to a recent injury, Carrasquillo is in the process of being medically discharged from the Army, and he and his wife, Cheryl, of 16 years, along with their children Joel and Alicia, are planning to relocate to Florida where his goals include obtaining a job in satellite communications or information technology management. Another goal of his is earning a master’s degree in management information systems.
Carrasquillo takes with him the positive educational opportunities he experienced while at Upper Iowa University. “Across each course there is a common thread that rings true with every professor – each of them really cares about each student,” he said. “I had professors that didn’t cancel courses because of low enrollments, especially courses that were requirements to graduate. Business professor Jim Hill did just that! He kept a class going with only three students because it was a graduation requirement for all of us. The class was converted to independent study that still met twice a week. Any other school, the class would have been cancelled. Not completing this course would have pushed my graduation date by at least one or two terms.”
He added, “If a soldier is looking for a world-class education, consider UIU. This is a school that has a great reputation to ensure that you will continue to move forward. Be careful in choosing an institution of higher learning. They are not all the same! A school should speak volumes about a student. A student shouldn’t have to defend their school!”