He says his experience at University Hospital through the UC College of Nursing’s one-of-a-kind co-op program has placed him “worlds ahead” of nursing graduates from other institutions. A military veteran who served in Iraq, Fillmore’s commissioning and graduation are outstanding achievements to celebrate this June – a dramatic transformation from returning home from Iraq and adjusting to civilian life as a newlywed, working overnights and stocking grocery shelves.
Originally from Murray, Utah, Fillmore, now 29, was 21 years old when he chose a dramatic change of scenery to pursue his higher education. He moved to Hawaii to attend Brigham Young University-Hawaii, where he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves after completing his freshman year. He served with the Army Reserves as a heavy construction equipment operator. Heading back to school in Hawaii the following fall, he met his future wife, Abbie, and was notified around Thanksgiving 2003 that he was going on active duty.
Fillmore served a year in Iraq before returning to base in Hawaii in 2005 and remaining on active duty for a few more months, assisting with receiving the unit’s equipment. But he says readjusting to civilian life, attending classes with students who had not encountered military experience and “figuring out married life” all became a challenge. “It was very hard to stay focused – civilian life was so different,” he says. “It affected me more than I knew. I think other people noticed it more than I did.”
He dropped out of college and the couple worked to make ends meet, with Abbie working the day shift at an assisted living facility and Seth stocking grocery store shelves overnight. “That will help you readjust your priorities real quick,” he says. “We never saw each other, and I thought this was no way to have a marriage and live a life, so I knew I had to go back to school.”
The question now was what career did he want to pursue? He recalled liking the medical aspect of a combat lifesaver course he took as part of his experience with the Army, and thought the nursing field would hold opportunities for advancement. He also wanted to go somewhere new, but somewhere close to family. His brother, Rafe, was working for P&G in Cincinnati at the time, so Fillmore says he started checking out the UC College of Nursing and found UC had a top nationally-ranked program. Everything was falling back into place. He was pursing a career where he could help people as well as have a career that could support his family.
One of his first stops on arriving in Cincinnati was at the UC Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) office, where he wanted to check about scholarships. It was an Army ROTC scholarship that supported his education at UC. His service with the UC Army ROTC Bearcat Battalion put him on track for commissioning as a second lieutenant upon graduation. The Bearcat Battalion is one of only eight Army ROTC programs to receive the distinguished 2010 MacArthur Awards for best exemplifying General Douglas MacArthur’s ideals reflecting duty, honor and country.
The family started growing toward the end of Fillmore’s freshman year, as his first child, Matt, was born in May, 2007. After being accepted into the College of Nursing’s one-of-a-kind co-op program, he says, “Our second son, Brent, was kind enough to wait until the school year ended, and was born on June 20, 2009.” Fillmore started his co-op experience in University Hospital’s Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit the following summer.
He says that he feels the UC College of Nursing held a “very understanding culture towards the military. The faculty that I have dealt with have been nothing but supportive. Many of the faculty have family members, siblings, children or parents who have served in the military, or they’ve been in the military themselves.”
“Seth Fillmore is a great product of two award-winning programs: UC Army ROTC and UC College of Nursing,” says Lieutenant Colonel Randy Judd, UC Army ROTC Battalion’s commanding officer and UC professor of military science. “Seth’s combat experience, scholastic accomplishments and compassionate leadership style will enable him to be a phenomenal leader in the Army Nurse Corps.”
Fillmore’s wife and children will attend Commencement to watch him march in the morning ceremony, and his parents are flying in from Utah to celebrate his achievement.
Upon his June 11 commissioning with the U.S. Army, and once he passes his board certification, the Fillmore family will be moving again as Seth goes back on active duty in Ft. Hood, Texas, where he’ll serve as a nurse with the U.S. Army.
UC’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) will hold its spring Commissioning Ceremony and reception at 11 a.m., Friday, June 11, in the Great Hall of Tangeman University Center. UC’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps will hold its spring Commissioning Ceremony at 10 a.m., Sunday, June 13, at the Richard E. Lindner Center Auditorium.
The ceremony is held for ROTC cadets who address the high standards to be appointed a second lieutenant, such as meeting the requirements of their degree program, their officer leadership training, medical qualifications and physical fitness.