Editor's note: An exceptional academic record can be marred, or even destroyed, by very bad personal choices. Learning from a serious mistake, picking up the pieces and starting over takes determination.
From the fall semester of 2005 to the first few weeks of the fall semester of 2007, Franz Folz was an accounting major at the University of Connecticut. He earned a 3.9 grade point average and was on track to graduate on time.
Back home in North Branford, Conn., Franz and Jackie Folz were proud of parents. His father, Franz, a respected accountant, boasted about his son to the neighbors. His mother, Jackie, sent homemade chunky, chocolate chip cookies to Storrs once a month, encouraging her son to keep up the good work. Folz would say to friends, regarding the unhealthy but delicious batch of cookies, "If you have one, I'll have one." It never took long for the container to be empty.
Sept. 9, 2007, is written forever in Folz's memory.
Folz and his buddies went to a party at Mansfield Apartments on the outskirts of the Storrs campus. Folz had a hot hand at beer pong and was partnered with a correspondingly hot girl. But the night began to slide for Folz when his roommate's girlfriend kept calling him repeatedly, looking for her boyfriend.
"She kept calling me every five minutes," he said. "Finally even the girl I was with told me I should help her out." Folz's two passengers for the night – a roommate and a friend – were also getting antsy to leave.
"I knew I had had some to drink, but I felt I was capable of driving," he recalls.
He dropped off his friend at the Alumni dorms on the south side of campus, a two-minute drive from the party. The next stop was Husky Village, to pick up two more roommates. He took his new silver Mazda 6 onto Route 195. He had worked long hours at a retirement home complex as a dishwasher to buy his first new car and was proud to rev the engine.
As he went down the hill past Towers dorms, he began to panic. Suddenly Route 195 seemed as difficult and fragile to commandeer as the streets of Baghdad. Then he saw a police car swing a U-turn and proceed to follow the silver bullet.
When he pulled into Husky Village, the red and blue lights flared on his car. Any of Folz's anxiety over homework, girls or his lackluster jump shot washed away immediately.
"He said I crossed the yellow line," Folz says of the police officer. He adds that he doesn't think he crossed the line, and neither does one of his roommates, "but I very well could have."
After failing a street test, he was given a Breathalyzer test. He blew a .118 on the first test. In Connecticut, intoxication is defined as a blood alcohol reading of .08 or more.