Hudsonite almost expelled at HHS heads to Oxford
At one time in his young life, John Burk Stringfellow was probably considered a candidate for residency in the county jail before he had a chance to live in a college dormitory.
But the Hudson native made a turnaround in his senior year in high school and 13 years later he has accepted a partial scholarship to Oxford's Pembroke College in England for post-graduate work.
Stringfellow credits a change of venue in his senior year in high school and joining the U.S. Navy with helping him gain access to the high road.
"I barely graduated from high school," he said during a recent conversation in Hudson. "I was in a pre-expulsion hearing my senior year at Hudson High School before I had an epiphany and made a change.
"The teachers knew I could do better. I'm sure the cops had an eye on me. And my mother, (Nancy Lobitz) was crying (at the hearing)," he said.
"I made the decision on my own," he said and moved to Georgia to live with his father and finished at Carroll County High School in 1999.
"I had to go to school day and take full night classes to catch up. My GPA was so bad after two years at Hudson," he said. "I went to school from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m."
With diploma in hand, Stringfellow joined the Navy. He scored well on math and science exams and was accepted to the Navy Nuclear Power School in Charleston, S.C.
Nuclear power appears to be the future of the Navy. According to Wikipedia, the Navy operates 102 total nuclear power plants including 70 submarines (each with one reactor), 11 aircraft carriers, USS Enterprise has eight, all others have two each, and four training/research prototype plants.
While serving in the nuclear Navy, Stringfellow applied for presidential appointment to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.
"I got rejected, because of a low GPA, but I kept trying and got accepted," he said.
He earned a bachelor's in quantitative economics in 2006 and made a name for himself on the academy's boxing team.
With his new ensign bars, he served as a surface warfare officer and did two tours on various combatant ships. He was deployed twice to the Middle East and was promoted to lieutenant.
"In the Middle East, I was on various missions including Marine debarkation to Kuwait, a mine clearance operation in the Arabian Gulf and anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia," he said.
He will leave active duty with the Navy on Sept. 8 and serve in a reserve capacity while working on a master's in business administration with a focus on entrepreneurship and venture capital at Oxford.
"I have the flexibility to attend reserve drills in Stuttgart, Germany, as the school schedule permits," Stringfellow said. He is on track to graduate with his master's in 2013.
He has definitely found a higher road since his pre-expulsion hearing at HHS some 13 years ago.
Stringfellow said the teachers and counselors indicated a lot of little bad things got him into trouble in high school.
"I parked in the teachers' parking spots. I'd steal donuts from the teachers' lounge," he said. "With some teachers, I tended to be too much of a smart ass and I feel bad about that.
"A lot of teachers and staff were behind me," he said, "and my dad was a force."
"The military was a blessing for me. I think I took more from them than I gave. The Nuke School cost $150,000 and an Annapolis education costs $300,000," Stringfellow said.
He said a year at Oxford will cost $80,000 to $90,000. "I have a partial scholarship, so I will go into debt for the first time."
Stringellow has set his sights on small tech startup companies and plans to build a future on it after Oxford.
He said he's available to talk with anybody interested in the Navy and its benefits. Stringfellow can be contacted at email@example.com