• vet-parade-renee-slider-1.jpg?fit=500%2C500
    Renee Carroll dressed as Rosie the Riveter during the Veteran’s Day Parade in November 2016. Samantha Sanders/The Mainstream

Soldiers to Scholars: Military service inspires student entrepreneur’s business plan

in Campus Life by

It takes great courage to sign up for the military. Some who serve see combat, some never returning. Others provide necessary aid to those in combat or assist foreign countries with improving their technical infrastructure.

Renee Carroll is one of those support veterans here at UCC.

Carroll is finding new life going from soldier to scholar.

Born and raised in Roseburg, Carroll never really left the area growing up. She led what she referred to as a simple childhood. She recalls being a strong student in her early years . . . until she met boys. She would ultimately meet her future husband while in high school.

Carroll played flute in school in the jazz, concert and marching bands. To this day, she can still rock a flute. Wanting to graduate high school early, she crammed her last two years into one year.

Graduating a full year early from high school, Carroll eagerly joined the Navy when the opportunity to enlist presented itself. Carroll’s best friend, who was enlisted at the time, said Carroll should join. Turning down an acceptance to Arts Academy in Portland, Carroll accepted. “I had nothing better to do,” Carroll said. She left for boot camp two weeks after signing.

Carroll enlisted to be an information systems technician just like her grandfather, who, in his time, was a radio man. As Carroll claims, same job, different time and technology.

Carroll spent her service on-shore, never really leaving American soil. In 2008, Carroll participated in RIMPAC. RIMPAC, Rim of the Pacific Exercise, refers to the world’s largest maritime warfare exercise. Carroll, stationed in Hawaii for two months, assisted foreign countries who are U.S. allies as part of RIMPAC. She supplied their ships and planes with cryptographic technology. However, she would not see much sea duty, otherwise known as a deployment.

Other than Hawaii, she was stationed in Coronado, California. Her service time didn’t line up with deployment dates, causing her to miss dates for sea duty that run six months to a year. Also, while in service, she became pregnant.

In 2010, Carroll was discharged from the Navy. At the time, she was battling a medical condition she was diagnosed with in 2009. The medication, Carroll says, caused her to have a bad reaction. During that time, she got into trouble with boys again.

Fighting with her now ex-husband would be one of the only bumps in the road in her life.

Carroll left the military with the rank of IT3, otherwise known as an E4. No longer in the Navy, Carroll went to work as a civilian, a difficult transition for many soldiers.

She became a consultant for Pure Romance in 2012. Consultants assist women with understanding sexual health regarding their body. Consultants have an inventory of bath and beauty products and adult novelty products to sell to their clients.

“It was an amazing experience. It taught me a lot about myself and is what encouraged me to attend college,” Carroll said. She would make a lot of friends through consulting. Many are still friends of hers to this day.

She began attending UCC summer of 2015 to study Business Administration. Those friends she made as a Pure Romance consultant were her support while making the transition from soldier to scholar.

In 2016 and 2017, Carroll participated in Startup Weekend. Both years she pitched and formed teams. In 2017, her team took second place. They pitched a veteran focused greeting card line. The cards are not only tailored to veterans and military members, but also, the cards are appropriate for law enforcement officers and others who serve civilians at home. The cards are unique as they don’t just thank those who serve. Their expanded line of cards includes themes focused on self, such as receiving a promotion or cards with dark humor.

While attending UCC, Carroll performed her work study in the Veteran’s Center. She assisted in management of the center, bringing in a food program along with generating community support to improve the center so veterans could study comfortably. This experience would also help her transition to civilian life and teach her how to use her military training.

Carroll is set to graduate from UCC in 2017 with honors. “Shortly after registering, I set a goal for myself. I told myself ‘I WILL’ graduate at the top of my class,” Carroll said. Living up to her words, she will graduate with honors. She is graduating with 3.83 GPA.

Carroll has plans to continue her education. She is already enrolled at SOU, Southern Oregon University, to begin a Business Administration program this summer. She will remain the public relations officer for Cascadian Cards while expanding her role into marketing and sales.

“I WILL graduate at the top of my class.”

–Renee Carroll, Bs. Adminstration