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.”