Former Navy SEAL enters Yale as a 52-year-old freshman

<p>Yale's freshman class this year includes a 52-year-old former Navy SEAL.</p>

News 12 Staff

Sep 3, 2019, 9:38 PM

Updated 1,746 days ago

Share:

Former Navy SEAL enters Yale as a 52-year-old freshman
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Former Navy SEAL James Hatch says heading to class as a freshman at Yale University is just about as nerve-wracking as preparing for the uncertainty of combat.
At 52 years old, Hatch does not fit the profile of the traditional Yale freshman.
“My experience in academia is somewhat limited, at best,” he said. “But I want to learn, and I feel this can make me a better person. I also feel my life experience, maybe with my maturity — which my wife would say is laughable — I think I can help some of the young people out.”
Hatch’s journey to the Ivy League has been serpentine.
He joined the military out of high school, became a SEAL and spent just short of 26 years in the Navy, fighting in Afghanistan and other hot spots.
His military career ended after he was seriously wounded in 2009 during a mission to find Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had walked off his post.
Eighteen surgeries and some notoriety followed after his story became public during Bergdahl’s trial. He suffered from serious post-traumatic stress, fell into drinking and drugs, and even attempted suicide.
But he got help from professionals and his family, he said, and is now better able to cope.
Hatch has authored a memoir, become a speaker and runs Spikes K-9 Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps cover the health care costs and provides ballistic vests for police and military dogs.
It’s a cause he has been passionate about since being a dog handler in the military. He credits dogs with saving his life several times, including on his final mission, when one alerted him to the position of the enemy.
Hatch was admitted to Yale after applying to be an Eli Whitney scholar, a program for nontraditional students who have had their educational careers interrupted.
“I was shocked to get accepted,” he said. “But my wife told me I would be silly not to take this opportunity, and she’s right. So I’m going to do my best, get in there and start swinging.”
Hatch is in Yale’s Directed Studies program, which teaches students how to analyze great texts and write persuasive essays through courses in philosophy, literature, and historical and political thought. Tuition and other costs are being covered by the G.I. Bill, scholarships from veterans groups and Yale.
He will attend classes with his PTSD service dog, Mina, who he said has already become popular with other students. His biggest worries, he said, are that he’s too old and might not fit in or be able to do the work.
“I think everyone there has a little bit of this ‘impostor syndrome’ where you feel, ‘Oh, my gosh, am I good enough to be here,’” he said.
But Hatch is just the type of person the Yale wants, said Patricia Wei, the director of admissions for the Eli Whitney Students Program.
“He brings just an incredibly different perspective,” she said. “We don’t have anyone here that is like Jimmy and just his life and professional experiences will add tremendously to the Yale classroom, to the Yale community.”
Hatch said he believes having a Yale degree will open more doors for him in seeking funding for his charity work. He also believes it might broaden his world view and help get him a seat at the table when government officials start discussing where and when to use the U.S. military.
“I feel like the political folks and the senior military folks spend so much time in that particular fish tank, that they some of the givens in their mind, should not be givens,” he said. “I believe getting a classical education can help fill in my base and combined with my military experiences can be the most beneficial thing I can have. I think I have a voice that should be heard.”
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


More from News 12
2:24
Connecticut prepares for upcoming heat wave next week

Connecticut prepares for upcoming heat wave next week

2:12
Heavy rain clears out tonight; tolerable temperatures Saturday

Heavy rain clears out tonight; tolerable temperatures Saturday

2:33
SILVER LINING: Swimmer from Darien recalls tragic shark attack in Turks and Caicos

SILVER LINING: Swimmer from Darien recalls tragic shark attack in Turks and Caicos

2:35
Supreme Court bump stock ruling won't impact CT ban

Supreme Court bump stock ruling won't impact CT ban

Alex Jones’ personal assets to be sold to pay $1.5B Sandy Hook debt. Company bankruptcy is dismissed

Alex Jones’ personal assets to be sold to pay $1.5B Sandy Hook debt. Company bankruptcy is dismissed

0:14
Police: Goshen man dies after crashing into a tree in Torrington

Police: Goshen man dies after crashing into a tree in Torrington

0:45
Gov. Lamont announced over 26 million for remediation and development to properties across Connecticut

Gov. Lamont announced over 26 million for remediation and development to properties across Connecticut

0:51
 Free jazz concert for Bridgeport seniors to be held next Thursday

Free jazz concert for Bridgeport seniors to be held next Thursday

3:03
'Truly incredible.' Staples High School club 3D prints prosthetics for people in need

'Truly incredible.' Staples High School club 3D prints prosthetics for people in need

0:22
Police: Over 75 pounds of marijuana found during shooting investigation in Milford

Police: Over 75 pounds of marijuana found during shooting investigation in Milford

0:47
Michelle Troconis' family releases statement 2 weeks after her sentencing

Michelle Troconis' family releases statement 2 weeks after her sentencing

0:47
Monroe Congregational Church's 52nd annual Strawberry Festival is this weekend. Here's what you need to know!

Monroe Congregational Church's 52nd annual Strawberry Festival is this weekend. Here's what you need to know!

0:17
Officials: Connecticut diesel tax to rise 3.2 cents in July

Officials: Connecticut diesel tax to rise 3.2 cents in July

0:49
Police: Motorcyclist seriously injured in Newtown crash as motorcycle fatalities rise across the country

Police: Motorcyclist seriously injured in Newtown crash as motorcycle fatalities rise across the country

2:36
Officials: Underground explosion caused closures in downtown Stamford

Officials: Underground explosion caused closures in downtown Stamford

2:50
 Person of interest arrested after explosion at Bridgeport apartment building

Person of interest arrested after explosion at Bridgeport apartment building

0:35
CSP: Stamford man dodged troopers, put CT DOT workers at risk at site of I-95 bridge fire

CSP: Stamford man dodged troopers, put CT DOT workers at risk at site of I-95 bridge fire

1:51
Dan Hurley is staying with UConn, but how much more will they pay him?

Dan Hurley is staying with UConn, but how much more will they pay him?

2:07
Campaign School at Yale University trains next generation of female candidates

Campaign School at Yale University trains next generation of female candidates