Veteran Student Maintains Positive Outlook


Michael Scherzer believes connecting and caring are ways everyone can all be there for each other.  

“Since I was young, I have always wanted to help people, which is why I joined the military," said Scherzer, and interdisciplinary studies major at Dalton State expected to graduate Spring 2021. “I want to be there for somebody on their worst day to make it better,” he said. 

Scherzer’s desire to help others led him to enlist in the Air Force after high school. In July 2016 Scherzer was on a combat dive training exercise when he was involved in an accident leading to his honorable discharge. Scherzer then decided he wanted to further his education. Once he found Dalton State, he finally felt a part of a “caring academic community.”  

“In high school I was bullied so I hated going to school because I was afraid,” Scherzer said. “After I got out of the military, I felt more comfortable with myself and figured out how to love myself. Then, I realized I could help build others up.” 

Katrina Autrey, financial aid counselor and veteran’s affairs representative, helps students apply for veteran benefits and ensures students successfully complete necessary forms for admission. Upon meeting Scherzer, Autrey said he stood out from other students. 

“Dalton State has truly amazing and brilliant students, but I honestly believe Michael is destined for greatness,” Autrey said. “He often visits my office just to ask me how I am doing. He is one of those students that genuinely cares about how everyone else around him is doing.” 

 As an interdisciplinary studies major, Scherzer found a passion for creative writing after taking Intro to Films as Literature with Jane Sample, associate professor of English.  

Sample said a positive setting in a classroom mainly comes from the students. Scherzer’s “considerate and sincere communication” with his peers only enhances the classroom. 

 “He is comfortable and confident with leadership but never dominates the focus of classroom discussions and supports other students when they offer their own opinions,” Sample said. “He is a remarkable student. He will be well respected among his peers and colleagues no matter what direction he takes after graduation.” 

Scherzer, who is pursuing a minor in criminal justice, plans to pursue a career in federal law enforcement after graduation to help prevent human trafficking. A recent life- changing event solidified his desire to save others from a similar experience. 

“My girlfriend was stabbed two months ago,” he said. “Through that crazy time, I had amazing support from faculty and staff, especially the CARE team and Dr. Jami Hall. I just feel blessed to have the opportunity to go to here because there are so many people who do not. Dalton State is a family where everybody cares about each other.” 

The CARE team receives referrals and investigates cases in order to provide support for students by providing resources to help them through a variety of things including food insecurity and mental health crises.  

“Michael is one of the most positive students I have spoken with,” said Hall, dean of students. “When I reached out to Michael to see how he was doing through this unprecedented time we face with the global pandemic, surprisingly, he turned the conversation around and asked me how I was doing. 

“To hear someone like him warmed my heart and assured me that there are students that know we are all in this together,” she said. “We are all fighting as hard as we can as students, faculty and staff. The CARE team is alive and active because we care about our students.” 

Scherzer remains steadfast in these unwarranted times. 

“You can worry about the problems of tomorrow; you can worry about the problems of the past,” Scherzer said. “But the windshield in the car is much bigger than the rear-view mirror for a reason.”