The Story of Us: Charles Koczan
TAMPA, FEB. 3, 2015 – Every student at the University of South Florida is motivated to complete their degree and better their lives through higher education. But a student like Charles Koczan stands out because of where he's been and where he wants to go. The path hasn't been easy, but you won't find Koczan complaining.
In 2003, the South Bend, Indiana native joined the United States Marine Corps to do his part in the emerging conflicts taking place in the Middle East. "I wanted to fight for my country," Koczan said. "I felt that there were people who would do it harm if they were not stopped."
Following rigorous training, Koczan was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines at Camp Pendleton in southern California as a mortarman. Before he could even settle in on base, his battalion deployed to Fallujah, Iraq as the main assault force in Operation Vigilant Resolve.
After taking part in what is now known as 'the First Battle of Fallujah' and serving a tour, Koczan was deployed a second time to Iraq in 2005-2006. It was in this campaign in the western Anbar Province where Koczan was awarded the Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal, with Combat "V" Device for his actions in combat.
Shortly after returning home, Koczan reenlisted in the Marine Corps to take care of his now growing family. "My girlfriend, who is now my wife, got pregnant and it came down to taking care of my family," Koczan said. "After 10 years though, I was ready to move on and pursue other endeavors."
The Fast-Track to Graduation
After separating from the Marine Corps in 2013, Koczan immediately began taking classes at Indiana University. Shortly after, the family had an opportunity to move to Florida where Koczan could begin taking classes here at the University of South Florida.
Koczan stands out from most other students due to the amount of credits he takes each semester. Koczan has taken 18-plus credits every semester he has been in college, although this semester he is taking a whopping 22 credits!
The large course loads are allowing him to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications this summer. Koczan plans on attending law school in the fall and has already applied to schools such as the University of Florida, Florida State, Miami and Stetson, among others.
Koczan is possibly interested in pursuing a career in environmental law. "I'm interested in that because of how large the field is growing," he said. "The possibility of working in that sector at the corporate level is exciting."
All for the Family
Being married with two kids, it hasn't always been easy to balance his duties as a father and husband with the role of student. "There is no balance, but you have to make the time," Koczan explained. "There is no set schedule but I've found that if I am sitting around, I'm doing something wrong."
Speeding his way through school, Koczan has afforded himself the opportunity to use a lot of his Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits towards law school.
When asked who inspires him, Koczan doesn't hesitate. "My kids, hands down," he said. "If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be working as hard as I am."
Thanks to the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, veterans everywhere are finding success in the classroom and beyond. At the University of South Florida, we would like to share with you the successes of our veterans and the impact they are making here at school and also in their communities. This series will highlight exceptional individuals who not only served our country in a time of need, but are using their unique tools to succeed after military service.
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