Monday, November 9, 2015

Michael Elliott

In recognition of Veterans Day, we're telling the stories of some students who have served or are currently serving within the U.S. Armed Forces. 

Looking around within our student leaders, one student that is always lending a helping hand is Michael Elliott.

Elliott, a graduate of Manchester Central High School, is a junior in the Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) program and has served in the Marine Corps and the Army Reserves.

With college searches well underway during his time in high school, Elliott said he knew he wasn’t ready for college, especially when the cost is so high. 

“I [didn’t] want to be there not doing as much work as I should be,” Elliott said.

He contacted the Marine Corps recruiter and began the process of joining the Marines. He said he chose that particular branch of the military because he wanted “to be the best of the best,” calling on the television ads that were running at the time.

Joining the Marine Corps right out of high school, Elliott was then stationed in Japan for three years. He was pulled to do various jobs including patching boats and rafts. He was put in charge of the budget – he was the card holder essentially. The platoon he was with did various things as well.

“We were a training platoon,” Elliott said. “[I] got involved helping to train new marines coming through. That was a lot of fun.”

After Japan, he went to North Carolina where we was stationed as a supply clerk and did much of the same work he did in Japan.

After his time in the Marine Corp, Elliott seemed to see what many of the veterans saw when returning home: No one was hiring. He began getting involved with FIRST Robotics as a volunteer, FedEx, and then joined the Army Reserves.

In 2010 Elliott was in active duty training within the Army Reserves, and in early 2011 he was deployed to Afghanistan. 

“I got through most of it just fine,” Elliott said, citing a limitation of his hearing that required him to stay on base, preventing him from going on patrols or convoys. “For me, that was tough. I was there to help.”

Elliott was in charge of supply for the base; he made sure the supplies were up-to-date and took on the responsibility of the armory, making sure all the weapons were fixed if they needed repairs.

Elliott returned to the United States in December of 2011. He was able to continue with his full time job and the volunteer positions he held before deployment, but he knew he wanted to go back to school.

His ultimate goal is to work with prosthetics, an interest which he attributes to being in the military. Elliott said “knowing people who have needed them, and seeing some of the struggles they go through” inspired him to seek out ways he can work with prosthetics. “I really want to design better and newer prosthetics,” he said.

With support from his wife, Elliott looked into the Mechanical Engineering program at NHTI and saw how hands-on it was. He read about the dual enrollment program between NHTI and UNH Manchester’s MET program, which he decided to take advantage of.

Elliott enjoyed his two years at NHTI where he said he was exposed to not only classes within the major, but electives including fine arts and foreign language. With his deployments in Japan and Afghanistan, he has picked up small segments of many different languages, but he has never be able to stick with a language long enough to become fluent... until American Sign Language (ASL).

His sophomore year at NHTI Elliott took ASL for his foreign language requirement. Right when he began the class, he fell in love with the language. After coming to UNH Manchester he was excited to see the robust ASL community on campus and has continued to take all the available ASL classes with a goal to fulfill an ASL and Deaf Studies minor.

Similar to the ASL courses he's taken, the MET program focuses on mastering skills through hands-on practice and experience. Elliott has been amazed at the amount of classmates also interested in careers in prosthetics, and that the MET professors incorporate the subject into their classes to reflect those goals.

At UNH Manchester, he has been able to apply his education directly to his dream of working with prosthetics. A class he is currently taking this semester has a project where he and a group of students are looking at prosthetics and seeing how they can be improved.

Not only is Elliott active within his major, he is also active within the overall UNH Manchester community. He's active within the Student Veterans Advocacy Team at UNH Manchester, which is a team of staff, faculty and students who are involved in updating the website with accurate information and planning and helping out with events, fundraising and other drives they sponsor.

But Elliott's involvement doesn't just stop there: He is also an Orientation Leader, a Transfer Student Mentor and is looking to get involved with Student Activities.

Elliott looks towards the future and sees himself still pursuing his passion for prosthetic work, so UNH Manchester's new Biotechnology program has piqued his interest as well.

He says that UNH Manchester has really influenced him, much like how he saw the Marines during his time in high school.

“UNH [Manchester] has really impacted me in the fact that it has brought out in me the most that I can [be].”