Michael Cleary ’21 didn’t click with the first college he attended. “I was 21, with neither the maturity nor the mindset for college,” he says about dropping out after three semesters to join the United States Army. There he found a good fit in the structure and discipline. Cleary spent nine years in the military, first stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, and rising from tank operator to staff sergeant. After completing a year-long tour in Iraq, he took a special assignment as an Army recruiter, traveling outward from his base in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to speak at high schools and colleges in a three-county region.
After medically retiring from the Army in 2018, Cleary prepared to re-enter civilian life for the first time in almost a decade. Enrolling in Mercy’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program took courage. “I can speak on behalf of veterans when I say that facing the unknown on the other side of service is scary,” he says. “But everyone at Mercy helped make it a seamless and comfortable transition.” From the concerned and knowledgeable staff to the designated veterans lounge, “Mercy puts a lot of time and dedication to make veterans feel appreciated.”
To Staff Sergeant Cleary, his years of military service help him focus on what matters most, improving the lives of those he served, whether Iraqi villagers facing imminent danger or high school students searching for purpose. Veterans Day, he says, is a day “to honor all my brothers and sisters across all branches of the military and their dedication to their country. It’s good to reflect on all the sacrifices they and their families have made.”