Retired Military Transfer Student Excels in Graduate School

2021 National Transfer Student Week Feature: Pat Sonti
By Theodore Davis | October 19, 2021
Pat sonti
Pat Sonti | Photo Courtesy of Pat Sonti

Texas A&M University-Central Texas is a favorite educational destination for active duty and retired military personnel, who find the university’s wide range of courses—and wide range of student ages, experiences and demographics—a welcoming community to join.

Pat Sonti, who has found great success since transferring to the university, is an example.

Sonti’s long road to academia began when he enlisted in the military as a young man. His Army career spanned several decades. Over that time, he was constantly encouraged to pursue his education. The military was a big part of what enabled him to do so.

He said, “The nice thing with the Army is there’s an education center on pretty much every big post… so there’s no excuse.”

Those centers became his first experience with college but he was not able to complete his degree while in uniform. It wasn't until he was close to retiring that another commanding officer told Sonti to go back to school. He enrolled at Central Texas College in 2014. There, he began experimenting with all kinds of subjects.

At CTC, he developed a love of history, which he wanted to carry forward. His first interaction with A&M-Central Texas was through a CTC recruitment program, and an A&M-Central Texas advisor on campus there talking with students. When Sonti said he wanted to pursue history and English, the advisor told him about the liberal studies program. From then on, he knew what he wanted to do.

While transferring, Sonti said he did run into a single snag along the way: After applying to the graduate program, he was not notified of his acceptance. Once he brought the issue to the university’s attention, he said, staff worked to fix it. He quickly received his acceptance letter, much to his family’s excitement:

“I buy some fancy stationary, print it out, and mail it out to my sisters and brothers. ‘Look, hey, I made it!’”

Since starting graduate school, he has enjoyed the academic environment. Across the English and history departments, he said his professors were outstanding. He liked how each instructor challenged him to think and grow. One even offered him a position as a writing tutor. He now works hands-on with students “to get them excited about education… I want them to get it sooner, rather than later. Not wait so long like I did.”

A lifetime of experience has helped him to connect many ideas he faces in graduate school. Despite retirement, his military service has not stopped paying off either.

“They pay your tuition and all that. They give you a stipend… To this day I have not paid a single tuition bill,” he said.

Sonti said his education and degree are personal considerations more so than financial ones: “There’s no economic argument I can make,” he said. It isn’t that he needs a degree to support himself, Sonti said. He just enjoys learning, which is enough to make it all worth the effort.

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