Transition has been a dominant theme throughout Liberal Arts double major Zach Petroff’s life. As a child he moved over a dozen times. As a U.S. Marine, Zach did two combat deployments in two very different parts of the world, the Gulf of Aden and Helmand Province, Afghanistan. And when going back to school after working in auto sales for several years in his native Ohio, he transferred from Kent State to Pitt to ultimately finding a home at Duquesne. 

Once here, he was immediately introduced to the supportive community Duquesne prides itself on. Coming in, “I knew I wanted a little more intimate experience with my educational experience. So, I ended up coming for a tour,” he said.

Petroff initially felt out of place as an older, non-traditional student among the students who were still in high school, but upon discovering the new Union Broadcast Center and the Director of the Center for Emerging and Innovative Media, Don Maue, seeking him out, he knew he was in the right place. “I left that day knowing that I would come here.”

His journey at Duquesne has afforded him the opportunity to build other meaningful relationships with faculty, staff and his success coach, who all walked alongside him.

As a double major in Multiplatform Journalism and History, he spent a lot of time in College Hall. Petroff joined the staff of the Duquesne Duke student newspaper as the opinion editor, was active in the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Student Veterans of America chapter. “I really need feedback. I really thought I needed feedback to grow as a writer. And that is something I got in spades.”

In addition to the classroom relationships, he valued the community he became a part of at the Veterans Center in Libermann Hall. Led by Chris Boissonnault, himself a retired Marine, the Center provides a quiet space where veterans can relax, form bonds, study and get access to any services they might need. “It can be really intimidating walking onto campus, feeling old, being the old guy, but the Veterans Center is a great place to meet up, talk about shared experiences, gain valuable information, and really kind of create a bond. The Veterans Center played such a pivotal role. I think it helped me grow into the person I am now.”

In his final column for the Duke, Zach reflected on his unique journey. “What I will forever engrave in my heart is how these professors (Dr. Pamela Walck, Dr. Mike Dillon and Prof. Margaret Patterson) believed in their students, even when the students may not have believed in themselves.”

Next up for Zach, he will start a job as a staff reporter with the Butler Eagle newspaper. “I am really excited to get into the field of journalism at such a pivotal time in its history,” he said.

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