Army 1st Lieutenant Stephen Mihalacki ’01 recently wrote from Iraq.
I just realized that it has been a long time since I graduated from IUP and the Honors College (May, 2001), and I have not kept in touch as best I could. However, I have been out of the country several times in remote locations and did not have the best means to communicate. Nevertheless, I want to say hello and let you know what is new.
I am currently deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is my second major deployment since I joined the army in 2001. The last one was Kosovo in 2002. Things here are hectic at times and calm and quiet at others. I just changed jobs a few months ago. I was an executive officer for a mechanized infantry company in Schweinfurt, Germany. Now, I am a finance officer based out of Germany as well. The change has been positive and I enjoy working as a central bank facilitator for most deployed soldiers.
Iraq is definitely a life-changing experience. The culture and people here are so vastly different than our own. Although some Iraqis and even those in the United States may not have found this war to be popular, I hope no one overlooks the fact that our soldiers are sacrificing daily to make this region a better place. I often apply my reasoning skills that I learned in the Core curriculum to look at situations here and often find I have no answer. Nonetheless, I never look past the dedication and devotion our military forces make daily. I am very proud to be associated with them.
Outside of the army, my wife Shannon [Hippler ’01] — the office worker in Whitmyre Hall from 2000-2001 — just graduated from optometry school and is now the clinical director of TLC Laser Eye Center in Pittsburgh. During her graduate study, she once interned at the office of Dr. Tarnoff on Philadelphia Street in Indiana, so she was able to visit IUP quite often.
Please let me know if anything new is happening at IUP and the Honors College. I truly miss everyone and often reminisce of my days gathering in the Great Hall for lectures and classes or hanging out in the gardens with friends. I hope everything is going well, and hopefully I will stop back in Indiana one day to visit. Until then, take care.
1LT Stephen J. Mihalacki