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Andrew Peters ’88

Andrew Peters '88When he was growing up in Indiana, Colonel Andrew Peters’s family was firmly embedded at IUP, where his father, Joseph Peters, was a mathematics professor, and he and his nine siblings attended elementary school, but it wasn’t until he visited the campus as a prospective freshman that he realized IUP was where he wanted to attend college.

“I had applied to Penn State, as well, but when I toured IUP, it was evident it was the right fit for me,” Peters said. “It was a smaller school, and the student/professor ratio was better at IUP.”

Peters originally planned to become a teacher and said he knew IUP had a great reputation for producing high-quality teachers, so he initially registered as a mathematics education major, but then switched to earth sciences and eventually joined the ROTC program.

“I had no intention of joining ROTC when I first arrived as a freshman,” Peters said. “I had friends who were in the program, and they spoke highly of the cadre and their classes. At that time, IUP had a policy that a student could take two semesters of ROTC in lieu of the gym/health requirements.

“The ROTC program at IUP was known to be the best in the state and one of the largest, if not the largest, in Pennsylvania.”

Peters had always been a military history buff, plus he wanted to experience the challenge and excitement of trying things like rappelling and qualifying with a weapon. It was during his second semester that two cadre members pulled him aside and told him he had great potential to be an Army officer.

“That really made me think,” Peters said. “They saw a potential that I didn’t know I had. They suggested I apply for a scholarship.”

Peters told two of his “best” professors, Melvin Woodard in the Mathematics Department and Donald Fritz in the English Department, about his plans. They were very supportive and wrote letters of recommendation for him, and during the summer of 1986, Peters was awarded the two-year scholarship.

“It was hard to believe that the Army had the confidence in me and was going to invest in my education,” he said. “Needless to say, I accepted the scholarship and eventually volunteered for active duty.”

After graduating from IUP in 1988, Peters went on to become an honors graduate from the Chemical Officer Basic Training Course in Fort McClellan, Alabama.

In his rise through the ranks of the U.S. Army, Peters received numerous awards for his service. He was awarded the Bronze Star twice during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Purple Heart for combat wounds he received from a roadside bomb while leading a convoy west of Baghdad, and the Legion of Merit Military Award for “exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements well beyond the expected norm for a successful brigade commander.”

Peters currently serves as the executive officer in the Army Materiel Command in Huntsville, Alabama, where he is responsible for advising the commanding/deputy general in functional areas such as force protection, security assistance, operations, planning, training, communications, interoperability, joint exercises, and management controls.

Peters was surprised to be designated as an IUP Distinguished Alumnus and credits his success to his family and his wife.

“When I received the notification in the mail, I was in disbelief,” he said. “I double-checked the return address to ensure it was the same IUP I graduated from.”

He said his parents instilled a strong work ethic and Christian values. “My dad had always worked two jobs to support our family and made sure all 10 children went to college. My sister, Ruth, deserves accolades as well, because she spent countless hours translating my military contributions into civilian vernacular before submitting the information to IUP for consideration.”

Peters said his wife, Debbie, deserves special mention, and he believes he was truly blessed to meet her while working at Bonanza Steakhouse during his sophomore year at IUP.

“She has shared in the sacrifice serving in the Army over the last 25 years,” he said. “She has a strong character and is extremely resilient and has been able to handle family issues during multiple deployments and when I was wounded.”

Peters believes that his experience at IUP provided the foundation for a successful military career.

“It might not have turned out so well if I had taken a different route.”

Profile published on 4/10/14

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