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Service In Afghanistan Pays For School
by Kate King

Photo Courtesy Kate King

Riley, left, and Moll in Afghanistan

"It's familiar faces," Moll said about his fraternity. "I already had 40 or 50 friends waiting for me when I came back."

Moll had joined the fraternity right before leaving for Afghanistan. He described his fraternity brothers as a support system that welcomed him back as soon as he returned to campus. The fraternity membership is especially helpful since many of the friends Moll made when he first arrived at UConn are due to graduate. He still has up to two years of school left.

While Moll came back ready to dive into schoolwork, it took Riley a little bit longer to figure out what he wanted.

"My first semester back was pretty transitional," Riley said. He said he had trouble making a quick change from his role as a soldier to that of a college student.

"We came home and then I jumped right back into school," Riley said. "I wasn't really sure that that was what I wanted to be doing, sitting in a classroom and doing the whole college thing because I'd gone away for a year and come back with all this money. So I have all this money, and then I try to go sit in a classroom after doing operations for a year overseas…"

Riley thought a lot that semester about re-enlisting in the military full-time. His grades slipped and he took a break from college after the fall 2007 semester. He is currently taking classes at Manchester Community College.

"I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do," Riley said. "I wasn't even sure if I really even wanted to be in school. Now I know that I need to."

Riley has improved his grades and intends to reapply for the spring 2009 semester. He hopes to get into the School of Business and is currently considering a major in accounting or management information systems. He is lives with Moll in their apartment at Carriage House.

Moll and Riley will complete their contracts with the Connecticut National Guard in November 2009. Both have thought about re-enlisting with the military but have decided against it.