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Focused Future

December 9, 2022 Sharon Handy
Marcus Rogers Portrait

Marcus Rogers, ’22, BBA with minors in marketing and management, is an example of determination, focus, and dedication to reaching his goal. Representing his graduating class, he’ll be one of the banner bearers at the graduation ceremony this December. Marcus credits his exemplary performance to his maturity and military background.

UofL: Tell us about your path and why you chose UofL.

Marcus: “I am not a traditional student, so at 41 years old, I take a different approach to school than most younger students. When I graduated from high school, I went off to college for a short time, Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), but I did not know exactly what I wanted to do, so I did not stay long. I just knew I wanted outdoor adventure. So, I left college, traveled, and eventually joined the Army. I spent six years in the service and took classes online.”

“During my time in the Army, I took advantage of the military’s tuition assistance program, where I could take classes online, and it was paid for without taking away from my GI Bill. Still not knowing exactly what direction I wanted to go, but knowing that I wanted to get a degree, I took mostly gen-ed courses and chipped away at what got me closer to a college degree. This wasn’t easy, though. I did this while working full-time and taking care of my military duties as a mechanic.”

“When I got out of the Army in 2015, college was not even on my radar. My goals were to secure a good job to provide for my family. I was a Bradley mechanic in the military, so getting a good job at the local steel mill in Riverport was fairly easy. The work paid very well, but it was difficult, dirty, and dangerous. More so, I missed having an impact on people like I did in the Army. I wanted my work to mean something. Something more. I knew I could do better and started to plan my next move.”

UofL: How did you end up back in college?

Marcus: “I knew I wanted…. to pursue an exercise science degree of some kind. Since I was a fitness coach on the side, I took a chance and left the steel mill and started my own gym – CrossFit Knuckleheads. During that time, I went back to UofL for an exercise science degree. Success got the better of me, and after two years of operating my gym, I had to pause my degree because business was so good that I couldn’t do both. That was, until the pandemic. I had to close the business and rethink a more stable path.

I love the business side of the fitness industry but knew that an exercise science degree would lead me backward in my career…. [which] required a two-year entry-level internship. I was way beyond in my career. I needed business…”

Marcus Rogers

I love the business side of the fitness industry but knew that an exercise science degree would lead me backward in my career. That degree required two-year entry-level internships. I was way beyond that in my career. I needed a business degree to pursue the fitness industry that I love. That’s what brought me to the UofL College of Business to pursue a BBA with minors in marketing and management.”

UofL: When did you know what you wanted to do in your career? 

Marcus: “I am still figuring out what I want to do when I grow up. UofL gave me opportunities, and the advisors set me up for success. I have the tools to make the most of my indecision. With a business degree, I can pursue the industry I enjoy, but I don’t have to work in a gym. I can work anywhere in companies, big or small. I have options. A business degree can go anywhere.”

UofL: Was there a moment that inspired you to finish the degree and come to UofL?

Marcus: “That moment came out of the pandemic shutdown. It was not out of panic, but I realized how vulnerable I was without a degree. It made me rethink and reset my direction.”

Were there any people, professors, or fellow students that inspired you?

Marcus: “Yes, there were many great and supportive people here that helped and guided me. There are so many people here that want to help me be successful but a few that come to mind are: Dr. (David) Faulds in marketing, a fantastic professor who loves marketing, really knows the subject. Dr. (Kathy) Gosser is a high-energy and amazing professor. Her excitement comes across in her class. She loves her field. And then there’s Dr. (Mahesh) Gupta. He loves operations. You can tell that he lives, eats, and breathes operations management. It’s evident in the way he presents the course. I love the passion of professors like that. I can feel their passion.

UofL: Any additional comments or advice you would offer future or current students?

Marcus: “You don’t have to figure it out all at once. In most places, they want to see you have a degree. The degree leads you in a direction, and the fact that you accomplished the goal and have the fundamental business knowledge will assure most employers you’re a good risk.

Know what you’re here for and what you’re hoping to achieve for yourself. You don’t have to be 41 with a wife and kids to have that. That’s just what helped me.”

At this time in my life, a lot was riding on getting this done and done well. Family expectations and an immediate need for my degree kept the goal front and center.

I have met many, many driven, amazing students at this school. But not all of them are focused. Putting myself in their shoes, I know it’s because the reason there in college is not their own. They’re here because someone else expects them to be here. Parents or society expect them to be in college. But I am here for my family and me. That makes a difference. If I were to give these students any advice, it would be to find their own reason for being here and work toward their goals for themselves.

Military experience has helped me stay disciplined and focused. I noticed some students who are distracted and not paying attention in class. They wonder why their grade is not good. I’ll say to them that if you must be here, make the most of it. Managing your time well and keeping one eye on the goal. That will pay off.

UofL: How will this degree help you? What’s next?

Marcus: “The challenges I encountered were based on life outside of college. With a wife, Shennell, three kids, and responsibilities to keep like car payments, and a mortgage, I was very busy. It’s important that I present a good example to my sons, Piko, 26, Po’iu 18, and Noa, 12.

Now that I am graduating, I see that I have a lot of options and am grateful. I have revisited my faith and want to follow God’s plan for me. I have become interested in the non-profit sector through some volunteer work I do. I am looking at my options to go back into the military and commissioning as an officer now that I have a degree. I have some entrepreneurial ideas I would like to pursue, and I am still in love with the fitness industry and always looking for opportunities there as well. The world is wide open. My degree here at the College of Business has armed me with a lot of information. I want to follow God’s lead and use what I have learned to do good things. I could be a great weapon for any business with all the skills I’ve gained here.

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