News & Events

 September 29, 2009

United States Marine Gustavo Maravilla-Hernandez Serves in Iraq While Taking Physics 141 and Math 171Q

US Marine Gustavo Maravilla-HernandezUnited States Marine Gustavo Maravilla-Hernandez is serving in Iraq while taking Physics 141 and Math 171Q. You might wonder how he does it: being a Marine and taking some of the most challenging courses offered by the University of Rochester.

It started in Fall 2008, when Gustavo was enrolled in Physics 141, Math 171Q, Biology 112, and Chemistry 131. In December, the Marines called him to action, and he was sent to pre-deployment training and then to Iraq in April 2009. He's been in the military since mid-2007 with his contract expected to end in mid-2013. He'll return to Rochester at the end of October 2009, but Gustavo could be deployed again in mid-semester, you never know.

When asked how he juggles such a busy schedule, Gustavo says, "Sometimes, it's extremely difficult to find time to do homework or study. We make a lot of sacrifices, and besides, we need time to sleep and eat, too." A typical day for Gustavo also includes a lot of physical training, plus military development, operational support, and various presentations. He even finds time to squeeze in lectures about Physics and recently taught fellow Marines about Newton's Law of Motion and how to "prove a derivative."

Professor Frank Wolfs of Physics 141 explains that he posts all of his handouts and homework assignments on the web, and indeed, that even the audio of his lectures are available via the internet. Because Gustavo brought his textbooks with him to Iraq, he has everything he needs to handle his coursework. Except, of course, for the labs and the exams.

When he returns to Rochester, Gustavo will do all of the semester's labs. As for the exams, Professor Wolfs will email them to someone in Iraq. After he completes the tests, Gustavo will scan and email them back to Professor Wolfs.

Gustavo explains that he's excited to major in Physics. "It's very interesting to me," he says, "to attempt to explain the nature of the universe and matter in an analytical and quantitative manner. I also enjoy Math a lot. To me, it's the language of nature manifested quantitatively, symbolically, and geometrically."

We think that United States Marine Gustavo Maravilla-Hernandez will make a great Physics major, and we look forward to seeing him back in Rochester this October.

US Marine Gustavo Maravilla-Hernandez