Hard work is nothing new to members of the United States Marine Corps, but a Lacey man used the discipline he learned during his 30 years in the service to complete a bachelor's degree in Business, with a double minor, in just two and a half years.
Ed D’Ura of Forked River is graduating today from Monmouth University in Long Branch along with 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
“I went to school and I studied like hell,” D'Ura said of his accomplishment.
D’Ura, 53, entered the Marines in 1974 at the age of 17 during the last year of the Vietnam war and served through both Desert Storm and the Gulf war, right up through the ongoing Iraq war before retiring in 2005.
He started taking classes at Monmouth University in the fall of 2008, beginning with only three courses his first semester.
After that initiation he increased his course load to five classes every semester going forward, including the summers.
D’Ura said with the current economic conditions he plans to look into going back to work for the federal government in the U.S. Marshall’s office or Secret Service, most likely in an administrative capacity.
“I’m too old to be a regular agent,” he said. “The cut off is 37.”
D’Ura said he has attended job fairs at the college and spoken to government recruits who told him he would be a good candidate.
“They said they would take a guy like me, I have the military service and I wouldn’t need security clearance,” he said.
In addition to his business degree, D’Ura earned minors in communications and IT.
D’Ura said he served overseas during Desert Storm and was on standby for eight months during the beginning of the Iraq war, but was lucky never to be injured.
“I was very fortunate in my career as far as that goes, it’s nice to get a Purple Heart, but it’s hell to get,” he said.
D’Ura said going back to school as an older person had its challenges.
“One of the hurdles I had to overcome was dealing with kids of their age; some are as old as my grandson,” he said. “Most were very respectful, but that could be the way I look, I still have the flat top and everything. They thought I was a police officer or something – at first they were hesitant to approach me.”
D’Ura also brought his Marine work ethic to group projects, which some college age kids could not relate to, preferring to go to parties instead of preparing presentations.
“When they get out to the business world there are going to be deadlines -- when the boss says it’s due, it’s due,” he said. “They didn’t like some of my comments… but once they got to know me it was a different story.”
D’Ura said finally graduating will feel different.
“I put in so much time and effort over the past two and a half years and got into the school routine,” he said.
But D’Ura plans to take some much deserved time off in June when he and Etta will fly out to Van Couver and board a cruise ship to tour the state of Alaska.
D’Ura and his wife Etta have four children and five grandchildren, all of whom live in New Jersey.