Campus Reform | 5 Big Questions for David McGrath, student veteran and journalist

5 Big Questions for David McGrath, student veteran and journalist

McGrath is pursuing a master's degree at Brown University following more than a decade in the military.

He says he was surprised by how open professors are about their liberal views.

David McGrath is a journalist, veteran, digital forensics professional, and now, also a student at Brown University. He is one of an estimated 1 million veterans currently attending college or graduate school in the United States. He spoke with Campus Reform about his path to the military and then to a college campus, as well as what surprised him about the current state of higher education. 

The tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001 sparked McGrath’s decision to pursue a career in the military. “My recruiter didn’t lie to me,” he said. “He told me two things you’re going to go to war, and there’s a good possibility that someone’s going to get hurt that you really like and love, or you might get hurt yourself.”

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McGrath’s interest in computers led him to pursue a career in digital forensics. The choice to go back to school, he says, was a simple one: “The guys who were making the real big money, frankly, were guys who had master’s degrees,” he said. 

Being a non-traditional student has come with its own challenges. McGrath told Campus Reform, “I’m the Billy Madison of my college…I’m the oldest guy there, I’m all tattooed, I stand out. My parents are not university professors or CEOs on State Street, and that’s apparent.” He says he was surprised by “just how many professors were open Marxists and communists…I thought it was going to be this behind the curtain kind of thing…but it was pretty open.” He called faculty members “true believers” who will openly push their political views on students. 

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McGrath sees veterans as an untapped resource, a pool of people who could bring significant improvements to the college experience. He’s never met a professor, dean, advisor, anyone who was a military veteran. “They all come from the same ideology, the same way of life. Everything is an echo chamber.” 

He says that college faculty are a major influence on students’ worldviews. “These kids come from homes where they look to those professors, and that is the only thing in the world, whatever they say, is the ideology that they’re going to keep with them for the rest of their lives,” he said. “And I’m just simply not built that way.”

Follow the interviewer on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito