Rouchon joined the Marines right after high school in 1998 and served for seven years

Cookeville ­– When veteran Amy Rouchon, a current Tennessee Tech University graduate student and an assistant principal at Cookeville High School, first decided she wanted to enter the military, she ran into a problem.

She could never catch the Navy recruiter.

“He was never in his office when I came by,” Rouchon laughed. “I think it was the fourth or fifth time that I came in that the Marine recruiter, whose office was right next door, popped his head out. He said, ‘Hey, I’ve seen you here a few times. Can I help you with something?’”

The recruiter brought her into his office, and after they talked for a while, he convinced her that she would thrive in his branch of the military. It felt like it was meant to be.

“I signed on the dotted line that day,” she said. “And really, I couldn’t have picked a better branch for my personality. It was probably the best seven years of my life that I could have asked for to help me take that first step into adulthood.”

Rouchon joined the Marines right after high school in 1998 and served for seven years, traveling overseas to be stationed in Japan and Africa. She reached the rank of sergeant/E-5. 

“The military is an experience where you get to meet people from all over the place,” she said. “Knowing that we were all going through the same pains and just growing together, and also seeing how different we all are, from all different backgrounds – that was very special and unique to me. I always encourage my students to go out there and travel and experience everything that’s different from us.”

After leaving the military and returning to the States, Rouchon pursued a history degree at the University of North Carolina, followed by a graduate degree from Drexel University. When she moved to Tennessee with her husband and fellow Marine, James, now a retired lieutenant colonel, she taught history at Upperman High School and has since moved on to become an assistant principal at Cookeville High School.

She is also working toward completing her second graduate degree – this one in instructional leadership at Tech.

“It’s been great because the same group of people have been in the program with me this whole time, and they are also assistant principals now. We’ve been taking the same courses together, and so anytime we have questions, we are just a phone call away from each other.”

Rouchon’s time in the Marines instilled in her knowledge and skills that she now uses in her everyday life, such as effectively communicating with people of different backgrounds and cultures, and learning how to better herself.

“I appreciate feedback a lot because that’s just something that you’re always receiving in the military, whether you like it or not,” she said. “That’s really helped me grow as a person and made me look from an outside perspective to see how effective I am.”

Rouchon encourages other veterans who might be considering the move to further their own educations and even go into teaching themselves.

“If there’s anybody who is thinking about it, Tech’s a great place. The program is pretty much laid out for you and you have a great support system. It’s very fulfilling,” she said. “You don’t grow unless you continue to learn, and it affords you the opportunity to give back in the education setting. It’s invaluable because you have the background and the experience to share with these students. A lot of them live vicariously through you when you talk about your time and travels, and it’s exciting to share with them that they could consider that as an option for themselves as well.” 

Photo courtesy of Tennessee Tech.

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