RCC helps student veteran forge a new path — twice

Everyone’s path through higher education is different. Some start college right out of high school, others work for years before enrolling at a community college. There is no wrong way to be a student. As Keaton Fournier says, “The biggest thing I’ve learned is that it’s never too late to learn, it’s never too late to reevaluate and change what path you’re on.”

Born and raised in Grants Pass, after Keaton graduated from Grants Pass High School, he joined the US Marine Corps. Four years later, he left the Corps and started taking classes at Rogue Community College. He pursued a transfer degree and moved to attend California State University at Northridge for pre-med, then changed tracks to become an emergency medical technician.

Unfortunately, before he could start working as an EMT, a back injury he’d sustained years before became too severe to ignore. He moved home to Oregon and went through physical rehabilitation while he attended Southern Oregon University and got a degree in health and physical education with minors in biology and psychology.

Then he decided to pursue physical therapy as a career. “PT helped me get back to doing things like surfing and snowboarding, but also just get back to going to class, going to school. Having a good physical therapist and a good recovery plan is so important. I want to be able to do that for other people.”

So he came back to RCC — to renew his science credits in chemistry and physics.

“I was more involved in campus life the second time around,” Keaton says. “One of the student workers from the Veterans Resource Center was in a class with me and told me about the free services like printing that veterans can access. So I went in and realized how many amazing people work there, especially Candi.” Candi Bunow is a Military Services Coordinator on the Redwood Campus.

Keaton also took part in this year’s Earth Day celebrations on campus by presenting a project on e-waste, an opportunity his physics instructor gave him.

Now, Keaton has finished his science courses — physics with Dorothy Swain, and chemistry with Kevin Murphy. He’s moving on to attend the physical therapy program at Oregon State University, but he enjoyed his (second) time at Rogue.

“I’ve taken a lot of science classes over the years,” Keaton says, “and Dr. Swain and Dr. Murphy were really some of the best teachers I’ve ever had.”

— Gene DePuy