"Never pass an opportunity to try something new." This is College of business student, Luke Solomonson's motto for life.
Solomonson has laid aside his educational career to pursue a higher calling, the mission of the Army National Guard: protecting our world. As a Staff Sergeant with the 1-163rd Infantry Battalion, which is based out of Belgrade, Solomonson recently returned with his comrades from McHenry base in Iraq.
Solomonson entered Iraq on December 13, 2004. He said, "The only reason I remember the date is because my birthday is the 12th of December, and I slept in the dirt about a mile south of the Iraqi border in Kuwait that night." Although this momentous occasion is one in which Solomonson will unlikely soon forget, it certainly was not the beginning of his adventurous way of life.
Solomonson started his education at MSU in the fall of '99 to pursue a Business Management degree with a minor in International Business. The following year, after being strongly advised by his professors to study abroad, he moved to Oulu Finland on the exchange program. "The thing that amazed me about Finland is how fast they converted their economy into the technology sector," he said. "Nokia originally started as a mining company and some of their best known products after their cell phones are rubber boots and bike tires."
Solomonson's eyes were opened to more than the rapidly changing economy in Finland. He also found the woman he would soon wed, Raquel Vallines Mira. The couple was married on November 16, 2002 in Astillero, Spain. They returned to Bozeman before Solomonson was deployed. Raquel is currently working on her Ph.D. in mathematics education at MSU.
When asked for his advice to College of Business students, Solomonson suggested that every student take advantage of the exchange program. "For me, it was something that changed my life for the better in many ways. I met my wife, learned about a new culture, met friends that I will have for life, and experienced a ton of new and crazy things. Ever eaten reindeer pizza [or] jumped into the Arctic Ocean…? I did. It's easy while you're studying [abroad] and incredibly cheap."
Solomonson plans to resume his business education this January. "The army is a big organization, and is a great case study for almost every aspect of business," he said. "I think a lot of its procedures are examples of how not to do things, but here are some things is does very well. For example, supply chain management and getting the supplies and equipment to those who need them. When push comes to shove, the supplies make it."
His professors are looking forward to seeing his face on campus again. Adjunct professor of business management, Dave Foster, who is himself a former naval officer, believes that Solomonson's education combined with his experience in the military will prepare him to succeed in whatever he pursues. He said, "I can say without hesitation that Luke clearly displays the self-confidence, drive and integrity found in successful leaders of the highest caliber. His demonstrated strong leadership potential coupled with his outstanding conceptual skills, maturity and superlative character make him the kind of individual that can have a real and lasting impact as a business professional."
Welcome home, Luke and thank you for your service to our country.