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James Patrick O’Connor, is in the first year of the MSN-PNP program. He retired in 2006 as an infantry Master Sergeant serving in the United States Marine Corps, U.S., Army, and California Army National Guard, with deployments to Egypt and Afghanistan. As a civilian, he works as a pediatric emergency room RN.

1. What is the biggest difference you’ve noticed in transitioning from military life to civilian life?

The biggest difference is that on active duty there is an enormous amount of support. Living on a base there is something for everything; there are lending closets that will lend you furniture for your housing while your own is in transit, gyms, movie theaters, gas stations, grocery stores, shopping malls, swimming pools, parks, college classrooms, air terminals for travel, churches, housing, medical centers and more, and a structured chain of command that can address any problem. Civilian life is much more unstructured and without such a vast support system.

  1. What is something you wish you had known before moving here?

I wish I had known about the difficulty parking.

  1. What is an important lesson that you learned in the military that has helped you in grad school?

I just finished my first semester and it has been a more difficult transition than I had expected. I think that organization and perseverance have gotten me this far.

  1. What made you choose UNC/NC when deciding on a program/place to study?

During my time in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, I was stationed at Ft Bragg, N.C. and always wanted to come back to North Carolina one day.

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