By Phillip Milano
Shipped around to various schools, testing his teachers, sleeping on floors, wearing out his welcome at friends’ houses after problems at home … Adrian Ruble didn’t have to wonder if some of the people closest to him were thinking he was headed for trouble. They were.
“But, I guess they didn’t all know me well enough,” chuckled Ruble, 24, an active-duty E-5.
He graduates Summa Cum Laude May 4 from Jacksonville University with a slew of honors, a GPA above 3.9 and a rare opportunity to follow in the footsteps of two family members as a Navy nuclear propulsion officer.
Ruble, from Mableton, Ga., near Atlanta, joined the Navy at 18 and came to JU at 21 with help from scholarships and Navy stipends. Among other awards, the officer candidate this year has received the American Legion ROTC Gold Scholastic Excellence Award, Meritorious Academic Achievement Award and Outstanding Physical Fitness Award, in addition to induction into the Phi Kappa Phi and Lambda Pi Eta honor societies. He also was co-winner of the Communication Student of the Year award for 2012-13.
“I needed the Navy to put me in check,” Ruble said of his upbringing, which included “testing the system a lot,” moving from city to city as his father struggled to find construction work, even sleeping between a dresser and a wall and finally finding himself nearly friend-less and needing direction.
“The Navy showed me that nothing is going to be handed to me,” he said. “I needed to realize the importance of college. It all put me on track.”
On track he is. Ruble will leave JU with a bachelor’s degree in communication and be commissioned as a Navy ensign the same day, after finishing the NROTC program at the University. After a rigorous selection process that included exams, background checks, references and an interview with Four-Star Admiral John M. Richardson, director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program in Washington, D.C., he was picked from among numerous candidates from places such as Harvard and MIT to attend the Navy’s Nuclear Power School in Charleston, S.C.
That puts him on the same track as his grandfather and great uncle, who both were accepted into the program as well.
Ruble will attend the school for six months, studying nuclear reaction, chemistry, math and more, and then do on-the-job training before being stationed on a submarine. Ultimately he’ll supervise the maintenance and operation of nuclear reactors on board.
“I cannot wait,” he said. “I’m very humbled by it. When you’re young, you expect life to give you a lot. But it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Now I want to do what’s best for myself and the Navy.”
Ruble credited his JU coursework and professors for “helping me understand communication and leadership,” particularly through his NROTC unit and with Prof. Dennis Stouse, coordinator of JU’s Department of Communication, who is certified to teach Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
“It helped me develop my work ethic into something translatable to any profession,” Ruble said. “It focuses you on personal pride and achievement.”
“He’s come here and has done a brilliant job,” Stouse added. “He is an outstanding young man.”