Graduation came to a halt on May 5, 2017, after Dr. Tracy Foster, Dean of the School of Business, called Jeffrey Rupp’s name.
Dr. Marty Marriott, president of Maranatha Baptist University, stepped up to explain the interruption, naming Jeffrey Rupp the 5,000th graduate of MBU. He read a brief biography of Jeffrey Rupp, gifted him with a special clock, and encouraged the audience to celebrate this significant milestone in Maranatha’s history.
“When you look at this clock,” said Dr. Marriott, “I hope you will remember us and pray for us.”
Meet Jeffrey Rupp
Jeffrey Rupp, son of Amy and Phil Rupp, hails from the small village of Cherry Creek (population 461) in Western New York. He has two brothers, and all three of the Rupp boys were homeschooled from kindergarten to twelfth grade. He heard about Maranatha Baptist University at a Christian camp when he was 16 years old.
“My camp counselor had a camelback hanging off his bunk,” Rupp shared. “So I asked him if he was in the army, and we started talking about ROTC. His physical fitness impressed me, and he was a super-awesome, very spiritual, love-the-Lord type of guy.”
The conversation marked the first of many with his camp counselor Joe Furnari—then a student at MBU and now Captain Joe Furnari, a 2012 ROTC grad. And it marked his first introduction to MBU and its ROTC program.
Rupp wanted to know more. “I really had no idea where I wanted to go to college,” he explained.
A First Visit
Rupp visited MBU with his parents and talked to Lieutenant Colonel Derrek Schultheiss about ROTC.
Schultheiss challenged him to enroll for a semester and prove his college readiness.
“My first semester became a testing ground for the military to see if I would be able to make it in the program,” Rupp shared. “God helped me get good grades. At the end of that semester, I received a scholarship for the last three and a half years of the program.”
Rupp graduated with a Business Management major and an Organizational Leadership minor. He commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into the Army Corps of Engineers, stationed in New York as a leader of an engineering platoon. He starts engineering school in October.
He made the Dean’s List every semester since coming to MBU.
Rupp’s experience with his recent capstone project provided clarity as to what his future may hold.
“Growing up I worked in the construction industry, and most recently in roofing,” Rupp shared. “I like to think about better ways to do things, so I designed a few pieces of roofing equipment.” With the help of David Schroeder, owner and president of Baker Rullman here in Watertown, his team developed a working prototype of one of the pieces.
“Through capstone, our team made a lot of connections into the business community,” Rupp said. “We pitched an idea to two executives at ABC Supply, and they gave us great feedback.” They also mentioned possible work down the road. Next steps, Rupp said, would be patenting the designs.
Rupp’s options after engineering school included active duty, Reserves, or National Guard. He chose the Reserves and a full-time civilian job in order to pursue his passion for innovative design.
He is most thankful for the influence of his friends and the MBU faculty on his life.
“I struggled sophomore year with my decision to go ROTC,” he said. “My roommate Tyler Wesley and my Resident Assistant Jordan Gross prayed with me, talked with me, and helped me confirm that this is what God wanted for me.”
Rupp added, “At Maranatha, I’ve learned that my attitude is my decision, and my walk with Christ is my decision. I can trust and wait on the Lord as he uses education in my life to open doors of opportunity following graduation.”
What does he think about being the 5,000th graduate?
“I’m humbled and honored,” shared Rupp.
His mom agreed. “More than you expect!” she said. “We were quite surprised by the presentation, but Jeffrey is always the one to surprise us with great ideas.”