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April 2013

Veteran finds welcoming home at Avila

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As a son of a military family, Mark Guthrie was never really in one place long enough to put down roots.

Today, with the help of the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program, Guthrie feels he finally established a solid home base in the Kansas City area and, more specifically, Avila University.

“This school’s doors are wide open to veterans,” said Guthrie, 28, who’s pursuing his teaching certification to teach middle school mathematics. “I shopped a lot of schools, and none offered what Avila had.

“Going to school here not only gives me freedom with flexible scheduling, but it also allows me to pay my bills with the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon. Yellow Ribbon has been a big help.”

Guthrie especially was complimentary of Alain Villalpando, Avila’s Veteran’s Administration certifying official and financial aid coordinator.

“Al’s been quite accommodating,” Guthrie said. “I’ve gone to see him quite a few times, and he’s always come through for me.”

Growing up, Guthrie’s life was filled with moving from place to place, wherever his father was stationed at the time. Born in Hawaii, he lived most of his formative years in California. He traveled all the way to the Philippines to earn a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. After that, it only seemed natural that Guthrie would join the military himself, and he enlisted in the Marine Corps in Virginia Beach, Va. He was stationed in Camp Lejeune, N.C. for four years.

From November 2010 to June 2011, Guthrie found himself in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, serving as an artilleryman in the Marine Corps, manning medium-towed howitzers and supporting infantry units. It was not a great time, he said.

“It was like the movie, Groundhog Day,” he said. “Every day we did the same thing. We all got pretty tired of each other. Every day, my executive officer suggested I go back to school, because the job I had demanded no mental skills whatsoever and he knew I had much more to offer.”

Guthrie had relatives living in Independence, Mo. so decided to move yet again, this time to Middle America, and take his superior officer’s advice. That’s where he found Avila.

“Avila being a Catholic school was a big plus, because I’m a devout Catholic,” said Guthrie, who works during the day as a teacher’s aid at a nearby parochial school. “The professors there are very knowledgeable in their fields. I’m very confident that I’ll have every piece of knowledge I’ll need.”

True to Avila’s values-based mission, Guthrie said he’s looking at his future in teaching as a service rather than a means of making a living.

“I just want to instill in students the values I grew up with,” he said. AU



Media Contact: Bob Luder, 816.501.2434