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Veteran set to graduate RPI after two deployments

Richard Abendroth

TROY - One soon-to-be graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has quite the story to tell.

“Life is not just a straight line,” quipped Richard Abendroth, 27, who worked for eight years to get a degree in Architecture at RPI.

Abendroth started coursework at RPI when he was 19, not long after joining the US Army Reserve.

He soon found out it's a battle to balance both passions.

"I joined the Reserve, went on ‘reserve status,’ and after one year at RPI I was deployed to Iraq with my unit,” Abendroth recalled.

Richard helped build bridges and move equipment overseas with the 299th Engineer Company.

He then came back to RPI for two years before being deployed again--this time to Afghanistan.

A family emergency involving his brother and a spinal cord injury cut that tour short.

“I stayed at home for the following year and half, helping out at home, taking care of my brother. Also, my father, had a double lung transplant the following fall," he continued.

Now, Richard is 24 hours away from graduation—at the end of an eight-year plan that wasn't planned.

"It's kind of hard to describe,” explained Bob Abendroth, Richard’s father.

“It's such a long time, he's been through so much. It's definitely a proud feeling."

After graduation, Richard's going to Europe as part of a school trip. Then he plans to move back to Maryland and look for work.

To read more about Richard, click here:
https://news.rpi.edu/content/2017/05/11/commencement-2017-commitment-country-and-class

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