Jim Schelberg ’12
- Bill McAllen Photography
Jim Schelberg ’12 is the third generation of his family who’s attended Washington College after serving in the military. His great-grandfather, Charles Lewis Schelberg ’18, served in World War I; then his grandfather, Charles Lewis Schelberg Jr., ’49, served in the Pacific during World War II. Following in their footsteps, Jim Schelberg served as a Marine Corps machine-gunner in Iraq, and in Afghanistan as a light-armored vehicle commander and infantryman. He graduated from WC after majoring in philosophy and the humanities, and is now pursuing his graduate degree in philosophy at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
“My sergeant had his master’s degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis, so we would end up having a lot of discussions on some of the longer, more boring missions, the uneventful ones,” Schelberg says. “Only till later in the deployment did I realize we were really taking part in philosophical inquiries.”
In addition to Schelberg’s WC legacy, it was also his sergeant who prompted him to apply to WC after returning from Iraq by passing on a flier about a Hodson Trust scholarship for veterans. During his time here, Schelberg spearheaded a program called Partners in Philosophy through which he and several distinguished members of WC’s faculty conducted ethics classes at Maryland’s maximum-security prison. The program earned national attention when the Washington Post published a story about it.
Schelberg’s transition from the military into the Washington College community wasn’t entirely seamless; few such transitions are, he says. “There was a disconnect between myself and the rest of the student body,” he says, largely because what he had experienced made him view the world much differently than most undergraduates. “But at some point you just kind of accept how it is and you make some friends you can trust and you stick with them.”