Jordan Bird -- Goucher College
When Jordan Bird crossed the stage at Goucher College's commencement ceremony Friday, he wasnt wearing a cap and gown.
The Hamilton resident and Anne Arundel County native got his diploma, though. Instead of the robes his classmates wore, Bird donned what he is most comfortable in, and proud of -- his U.S. Marine Corps uniform, along with a white-bordered black hood signifying his bachelor of arts degree in sociology.
Bird's route to the graduation stage was long -- he started at Towson University in 2003 but, feeling aimless there, felt a pull to the Marines. After tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he returned to college at Goucher with new motivation. Eventually, he realized he could use his education to continue to honor his military roots.
"I was at a time in my life where I didn't know what I wanted to do," Bird said of his decision to abandon college. It was an adjustment when he decided to come back, but "when you start something, you just have to finish it," he said. Along the way, his ambitions became clear.
Bird, 26, is a 2003 graduate of Arundel High School. At that time, while he was intrigued by stories of a friend's brother enlisting in the Marines, he followed the typical path to college at Anne Arundel Community College and then Towson. He shifted from majors in accounting to criminal justice to sociology, but after three years, he still felt aimless.
He walked into a Marines recruiting office and enlisted at age 20. After training at Parris Island, S.C., and Camp Lejeune, N.C., he spent seven and a half months in Fallujah, Iraq. A year later, he went on to Helmand province, Afghanistan, both times working as an artillery surveyor, helping to direct fire.
When his service was up, Goucher was a friendly option to resume his studies because he would often drive to the Towson campus from Camp Lejeune to visit his girlfriend, Susie, who was studying education there. Susie Bird is now his wife and a teacher at City College high school in Baltimore.
While studying at Goucher, he found a new passion volunteering with Talmar Gardens and Horticultural Therapy Center, helping the nonprofit launch a program providing treatment to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. He plans to do more of the same after completing a master's in social work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, where he will enroll in the fall.
-- Scott Dance (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun /May 18, 2012)
The state university system's Board of Regents approved a 3 percent tuition increase Wednesday for most in-state students, bringing a routine close to a budget process that was briefly thrown into chaos by the General Assembly's inability to agree on a spending plan.
Though the university system received $5.3 million in cuts in Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed $2 billion operating budget for 2013, the trims were not deep enough to force a change in the planned tuition increase.
"It's a small enough number that I think the campuses will be able to absorb it without any significant impact to student services or to academic quality," said Chancellor William E. Kirwan of the cut.
System workers will not face furloughs, Kirwan said, though most salaries will remain frozen aside from a 2 percent cost-of-living increase scheduled to begin Jan. 1. The presidents of each campus will decide how to implement the cuts.
The system will also face a $5 million reduction in its reserve fund.
Kirwan had warned that the tuition increases would be in double digits under the "doomsday" budget that would have taken effect if lawmakers had not approved tax increases in a special session this month. He said that 12 percent to 13 percent tuition increases "would wipe out so many of the gains we've made."
This is the third straight year the regents have passed a 3 percent tuition increase, modest compared with the hikes seen in many other states, from New York to California. Kirwan noted that Maryland's in-state tuition has gone from sixth to 25th most expensive in the country over the past half-dozen years.
"When we look at what's happening around the country, we feel very blessed," he said.
At the University of Maryland, College Park, the state's flagship institution, tuition and fees will go from $8,655 in 2012 to $8,908 in 2013.
The one exception to the 3 percent increase is Salisbury University, which will raise in-state tuition 6 percent for a second straight year to bring the university's revenue in line with competitors.
Out-of-state tuition will increase by as much as 5 percent at the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
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