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Military career exposes RCBC 2017 valedictorian to a world of opportunities

Photo from Franklin Birch's speech at the 2017 Commencement Ceremony

U.S. Army veteran, Franklin Marvin Birch, not only set a record as Rowan College at Burlington County’s oldest valedictorian, at age 62, he also inspired students with his commencement speech that was about a memorable wounded soldier whom he had met during his time at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Birch, who had served as Chief Nurse and Sergeant Major of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, worked with wounded veterans and issued briefings to the President of the United States.

“That was the most challenging and rewarding position of my career,” Birch said. “I met many great people who inspired a ‘Can-Do’ spirit in me that helped me achieve many goals beyond my expectations including this humbling honor of serving as valedictorian of Rowan College at Burlington County.”

Birch, of Pemberton, lived all over the world during his 30 years of distinguished service in the U.S. Army, and rose to the rank of Master Sergeant – the highest enlisted rank. He also knows seven languages.

“Mr. Birch is a true hero and an inspirational example of how lifelong education is essential to career and personal success,” RCBC President Paul Drayton said.

While he was in the military, Birch earned associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Excelsior College. He has used his education as a volunteer counselor to veterans. A true lifelong learner, Birch planned to enter a doctorate program at Temple University to better serve those veterans, but wanted to re-acclimate himself to higher education by following in the footsteps of his four daughters, who had all chosen to pursue their education at RCBC.

Birch graduated with a 4.0 and two degrees in human services and criminal justice this May.