Matthew Ruppert spent eight years serving his country as a member of the U.S. Army but couldn’t wait to continue his education when he returned home. Originally from the East Coast, Ruppert chose Regis University in Colorado Springs for its beautiful surroundings and familiar military ties. Since graduating with a bachelor’s in communication, Ruppert has spent a year working for Regis and now, at 33, serves as an education account executive conducting business development operations for the Colorado Springs branch. Ruppert took some time to discuss his career and the role Regis plays in this military community.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up in Colorado Springs?
I was born outside of Washington, D.C., and I was an Army brat, so we just kind of traveled. We lived in Europe — Germany and England — for nine years and then my family retired here back in 1994. I went to high school here and then went into the Army myself in 2001 after Sept. 11. My first duty station was Fort Polk, La., and my first deployment was to Guantanamo Bay for a year, and then I was assigned to Vicenza, Italy, and from there I was deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
When I was in Afghanistan I decided to put a real focus on my education, but when you’re working for the military that can be a real difficult endeavor to pursue. So I finished my enlistment with the military and decided to go to school and get my degree. I was past the threshold of the typical college student demographic, so I decided to take the adult learner route with Regis University.
Why did you choose to pursue a career with Regis after graduating?
As a student, I was really drawn to the community outreach that they do. Being a service member, I had already sort of been in that mode of service, so the service aspect appealed to me. They put an emphasis on outreach because it is a Jesuit university, so it’s part of their mission to serve the community. I helped with Care and Share’s End Summer Hunger campaign in 2011 and then I helped with Christmas Unlimited by doing two live TV spots as a student representative for Regis.
I moved along to the career side of things and a position opened up at Regis University for an enrollment counselor, and then the business development representative position opened up. I had been doing a little bit of business development work anyway, so I was privy to what that entails. They chose me for the job and I have been in this position for roughly four months now.
What made you decide to come back to the Springs after traveling the world? What is special to you about this place?
Because of the veteran background that I have, I see the connection that the University has with the military community. So Colorado Springs is a good fit for me: It’s a beautiful area, but I think that the substance of the university and the services it provides is what really attracted me. I definitely want to stay here, but I will go where the university needs me.
Can you talk about Regis’ role in the military community in Colorado Springs and what sets it apart from other schools?
Well, 35 years ago Regis started as an exclusive military provider in the basement of St. Mary’s Church. Since then, we’ve continued our connection with the military community. We’re a Yellow Ribbon participant and we understand the needs of our community — many service members need that adult learning format, and we recognize that need and address it. We’re certainly not trying to compete with other military providers; we’re simply trying to fulfill that need for students who want to get the rigorous academia that we provide.
What goals do you have for your professional life and career at Regis?
Continuing education is something that I value. I’ll be pursuing my MBA in January, and that’s something that the university definitely helps out with. Continuing education is always a goal that I have had in mind, as well as expanding my areas of responsibility at the University. That is what I’m aiming at.
What is exciting about Regis right now?
It’s a really exciting time at the university. We just celebrated our 35th anniversary and we just had the unveiling of our new military and veteran lounge on Oct. 1, which will really help us to serve our demographic that much better. I think that with the challenges military men and women are facing, any resources that we can give them is a good thing and I think that this new development is a very exciting and useful resource. n CSBJ