By the time Drew Rogers arrived at Missouri State's Graduate College, he'd already accomplished a lot.
As a 19-year-old, he qualified for the Navy's submarine unit and ultimately passed a series of demanding tests to become part of the team that built the U.S.S. Jimmy Carter.
Occasionally, Drew recalls of submarine life, the navigator would put up the sub's periscope. Drew and his fellow submariners would crowd around to peer through the lens – eager for a glimpse of the world above the ocean's surface. They called this "periscope liberty."
Those moments of sun and sky sustained Drew as he coped with living near the seafloor. They also taught him to find possibility in even the tiniest glimpse.
A new calling
The G.I. Bill helped Drew go to college, and following graduation, he began considering graduate school, which he knew would put him on the path to lasting career fulfillment.
"I think if I'd never met Char... I certainly don't feel like I'd be as happy."
The Department of Veterans Affairs helped Drew find Missouri State's Master of Social Work program, and from there Drew added a Master of Administrative Studies to his curriculum. Meeting Dr. Char Berquist of Missouri State's Center for Dispute Resolution (CDR) led him to seek out a graduate assistantship at the CDR, something he describes as an "opportunity I might not have had anywhere else."
In this role, Drew became involved in mediation for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which ultimately led to his current position – his "dream job" – as the alternative dispute resolution mediator for the Kansas City region of the EEOC.
When asked about his work, Drew's passion is clear. He says, "The best part about mediation is that when you're going through the mediation, there's a resolution at the end, and people can open up at the end and the light can go off and say... 'Whatever chapter of my life was causing me all this pain, it can close right now'... It's really awesome to see."