Originally from Powder Springs, Georgia, Adam Linn has been a lifelong Alabama fan. “My grandmother and cousins graduated from Alabama, and my aunt got her master’s from UA. I was coached up in that Alabama legacy,” he said.
When he was in high school, he had plans to attend UA, but something happened that changed all that. “After September 11, I felt a higher calling to go and do something bigger than myself. So I joined the Marine Corps.” Soon, Adam had graduated from boot camp at Paris Island, joined his first unit in North Carolina and was deployed to Iraq.
After two deployments and nearing the end of his contract with the Marines, Adam had a big decision to make. “I could stay in or continue life on the outside. I was in love with my high school sweetheart and chose her over the Marine Corps, and that turned out to be a great thing,” he says. In 2005, they were married and in 2007, he found a new brotherhood and area of service as a firefighter and paramedic. By 2009, he joined the Army National Guard in addition to his work for the fire department.
In 2017, the high school sweethearts were welcoming their fifth child, and Adam decided it was time to revisit his dream of graduating from The University of Alabama. “I was in my mid-thirties and I had been telling myself that going to Alabama might be a bridge too far,” he said. But one day on the way home from a trip with his family, he was browsing UA’s distance degree programs and found the 100% online bachelor’s in Human Environmental Sciences (HES).
“I’m the type of person that believes once I put my thoughts to words and there are people around to hear it, it’s written in stone. So I told my wife right there in the car, ‘I’m going to Alabama. I’m going to graduate from Alabama,’ and in 2017, I started my classes.” Adam was able to transfer a good portion of his military training as coursework through Joint Services Transcripts (JST, formerly SMART transcripts). JST provides higher education institutions with standard recommendations from the American Council on Education for awarding college credit for military occupational experience and training.
Adam said that as a husband, father of five, firefighter and guardsman, online coursework was an absolute must for him to complete his bachelor’s. “It was flexible and accommodating. I try to never be the student that needs an extension, but sometimes life happens. And when that did, I tried to give my instructors advance notice and evidence of what I was experiencing. They were very helpful and I never had a problem with any of the faculty.”
Adam’s favorite professors were Jacob Hiserman, who taught history, and Dr. Kym Reddoch, who taught several of his classes within HES. “Her emotional intelligence classes need to be required for a wide array of jobs across the board. We hear the golden rule, but it falls to the wayside as we get older. Those classes teach why it’s important to treat people the way you want to be treated. They just helped me see things from a different perspective.” He said the program’s coursework as a whole was helpful. “It was definitely not just a means to an end – it highlighted and went deeper into things I’d learned and could apply to my career.”
In 2018, during his time in the program, Adam commissioned as a warrant officer, which is a rank that provides a bridge of communication between the enlisted and officer sides of the Army. And in 2019, he deployed again, this time to Afghanistan. “I made it home safely, and I consider myself very lucky in that regard. I’m very thankful.” In March 2020, Adam accepted an active duty National Guard position at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and relocated to the Washington, D.C., area. Because of complications and safety measures related to COVID-19, his transition to his new position was anything but normal. “I checked into my hotel on March 9, and on Friday, the 13th, they told me, ‘Get your stuff and don’t come back to work.’ I’ve been teleworking ever since.”
While teleworking, Adam has also managed his family’s move up to Virginia along with completing his coursework. “It’s been a juggling act, for sure!” he said. Throughout his time in the program, challenges have been consistent: deployment, a major family move, a pandemic, teleworking. But the ideal of leading by example as a parent is what kept him going. “Now, when my kids are thinking about going to college, I can share my personal experience and perspective with them. If I had given up, they might ask other questions and I’d have to give an excuse. And I don’t like excuses – it’s not the way I live my life and it’s not the way I want my kids to live theirs,” he explained. “I want them to know that even when adversity knocks at the door, we have to keep pushing through.”
Adam followed through on that commitment from the car ride, and in August 2020, he officially joined the ranks of the University of Alabama alumni. Due to military travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines for commencement, he and his family were unable to attend graduation. “We only had four tickets for graduation, so I couldn’t come with my wife and pick which kids didn’t get to come!” he laughed. “I’ve now graduated from The University of Alabama, but I’ve never set foot on campus.” The whole family looks forward to a visit one day in the future.
“I’ve been a diehard Alabama fan my whole life. But when you earn that title of alumni, it makes hearing Roll Tide a little bit different.”
Published: November 5th, 2020