MANCHESTER, NH – Meet Sgt. Rocco Collura of Manchester, a traditional guardsman with a serious regard for lifelong schooling. At 27, he is a full-time financial advisor and doctoral candidate. When he’s on duty, the self-professed nerd is a mortar section leader with Charlie Company, 3rd of the 172nd Mountain Infantry Regiment.
“His education truly sets him apart from his peers,” said Collura’s first sergeant, Christopher McWilliams. “Aside from the obvious benefits Collura gains by having his education, it benefits the company. It keeps him engaged. Here’s a smart guy doing really well in the civilian world managing money for wealthy people and he’s offered his personal time to mentor soldiers in managing their day-to-day finances.”
Collura, who is pursuing a PhD in economics at the University of New Hampshire, said his love for education arose when he wrote a paper comparing political tensions between Russia and the U.S., and the effects it had on the valuation of the ruble and dollar.
Two degrees and a graduate certificate in investment and finance later, he says, “I never thought I’d achieve my masters, let alone my doctorate. I am a big believer in the idea of being a lifelong student and always learning and developing with every new experience.”
So why not become an ordained minister to boot “just in case I find myself in a situation where a couple wants to get married and needs someone to officiate,” Collura said.
Collura joined the New Hampshire Army National Guard eight years ago during his freshman year of college, because, he said, his life felt unfulfilled.
“I’ve had so many opportunities, it’s hard to pick out just one in particular,” he said. “I would say one of the best times I’ve had so far was at the Army Mountain Warfare School.”
The school, located at Camp Ethan Allen in Jericho, VT, is focused on mountaineering.
“The school was fast-paced and physically demanding, but it was also extremely rewarding and applicable in my unit’s main focus,” said Collura, who has also attended Air Assault and Airborne School.
In 2014, Collura earned NHARNG Soldier of the Year honors. “It might sound a little crazy, but the best part of my job is getting to a training site, in the pouring rain or in freezing mountainous conditions and crushing the training we are undertaking,” he said.
The infantry prides itself on being thrown into the hardest conditions and still carrying out the mission, he added.
“Collura is what the younger soldiers in the company should emulate,” McWilliams said. “He’s got a great work ethic. He’s physically fit. He provides outstanding leadership to his section, makes sound decisions, and he is always looking to better himself and the unit.”