Nontraditional Student Graduates with Highest Honors


David Rueppel

Distinctive is the best way to describe David Rueppel, a nontraditional student graduating this May from Millersville University. Majoring in anthropology with a concentration in archaeology, with a minor in history, Rueppel will be completing his undergraduate college career suma cum laude holding a 4.0 GPA.  Along with having a family, Rueppel maintains his academic performance while living with a mild case of Savant Syndrome.  Savant Syndrome is classified as a form of autism, where people who are labeled as Savants are considered to have lower levels of intelligence but display exceptional talent or ability in a particular area.

Rueppel transferred to Millersville University from Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) in the fall of 2010. “The finest people I ever met in my life have been at Millersville. I’ve been challenged here,” said Rueppel.  He also credits his professors Dr. Timothy Trussell, archaeology, and Dr. Justin Garcia, anthropology, for helping guide his journey through Millersville University as a nontraditional student. As these two professors learned Rueppel’s personal story, a friendship developed.

Rueppel and his mother moved to Lancaster from Lebanon, Pa., and he attended Milton Hershey School for boys in his youth. His relationship with his mother grew more dysfunctional, and she would always address Rueppel’s childhood ambitions with pessimism. Struggling to maintain familial ties with his mother and his stepfather, at the age of 15 Rueppel decided to run away from home.  As a result, he found himself heavily involved with illegal activities in order to survive.

It wasn’t until he met his soon-to-be wife Victoria when he was 17 that he began to turn his life around.  Rueppel and Victoria have five children, and he stated that he “wouldn’t trade fatherhood for anything.” “My wife,” said Rueppel, “forced me to make lifestyle changes, because of how she brought a dimension of peace and happiness to my soul.”

After receiving his bachelor’s degree on May 18 at Millersville, Rueppel will attend the Evangelical School of Theology in Myerstown, Pa., for graduate studies. “Millersville University has done its job well,” said Rueppel.  I would recommend this institution to anyone. I will always be a Marauder, and I will represent this University wherever I go.”


  1. Jennifer Saravia says:

    Such an amazing story! Very inspirational! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Olayinka Osibodu says:

    Jesus can BREAK ANY CHAIN!!!! Congratulations !!! And God Bless you, keep letting his light shine through you!

  3. Amanda Reedy says:

    This is a beautiful, inspirational story. Thank you for sharing and best wishes in all you do!

  4. Daniella Singleton says:

    This is an amazing story! So proud of this man for overcoming many obstacles and accomplishing something many can only dream of! It is so pleasant to see stories like this come out of MU, as an alum myself I know the University is truly great and a wonderfully welcoming place for non-traditional students from all backgrounds! I wish this man only the best following graduation! I believe he will go far in life!

  5. Derek Shanahan says:

    Congratulations Dave

    Nice job!

  6. Samantha Davis says:

    Congrats Dave!! You are totally awesome!

  7. Lucy Ngokonyo-Weaver says:

    Ohh My! David. I remember sitting beside you through an Anthropology class at ware center. I’m so proud of you. Kudos! and Bravo!

  8. Mary Ann Schlegel says:

    Congratulations, David! You did it!!!!!!!!

  9. Becca Nissley says:

    Job well done, David!

  10. Alyssa Haskins says:

    I am so proud of you, Dave!! :) So glad to have met you. You always bring knowledge to my life! :)

  11. Steve Reynolds says:

    Great Job Dave! You deserve the best! Best of luck in all you do. You’re a great inspiration to many! God Bless You!

  12. Mary Sommar says:

    Congratulations, Dave. I am very happy for you.

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