Spencer Magee lived a life of adventure in the military before attending the University of Dallas. His backpack now carries only one “essential adventure item,” a rescue pug named Jake, as he engages in new adventures after spending eight years in active duty.
“I remember telling the recruiter that I wanted to get out of town as soon as possible,” Magee said. “One of the earliest jobs they had was within intelligence, so I tried out for that, and got the job.”
Immediately, Magee was sent to do basic training in Fort Leonard, Mo., and afterwards to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey Bay, where he learned Spanish.
“I did a little work with that language in the Latin American sphere, and then I got picked to do parachute duty,” he said.
After this, he was sent to Fort Benning, Ga., to complete more training before being assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division.
“[The 82nd Airborne Division] is kind of a famous unit within the army because they were some of the first troopers to land in Normandy on D-Day, and so we have almost a hundred years of tradition in that unit,” Magee said. “It’s one of the largest and first airborne units in the army.”
Magee spent one month with the 82nd Airborne Division before he was sent to Iraq for a year. He was one of the last Americans in Iraq. When he came back, he attended Special Agent School and was certified as a Special Agent for the Department of Defense. He then participated in investigations for four years.
He enjoyed his time as a special agent, but before long he was injured in a parachute accident. A visible scar is etched onto his forearm from the event.
“I hit the ground, and I was like, ‘I think I need to get a new job,’ ” Magee said regarding his choice to attend college.
“UD is so dedicated to ethics and politics … I think what I was most impressed by was that it’s embedded into the Core curriculum here,” he said. “There’s no way of escaping serious discussion on philosophy, on ethics, and I think growing up in the modern world, we’re really divorced from the tradition of what it means to be an individual participating in Western civilization.”
While in Seattle, Wash., Magee found himself contemplating the seeming lack of American culture and thinking ‘there has to be more than this.’
“When you travel and see how other people are experiencing their culture, I think at some point you have an internal check, an internal survey, and you say, ‘Well, where’s my culture? Where’s my cultural inheritance?’ ” Magee said. “And I think that’s kind of what led me to Catholicism, and that’s what led me to studying philosophy and ethics, and I think that’s kind of what led me here to the University of Dallas.”
In the future, Magee would like to attend graduate school and continue his education. He notes that the Institute of World Politics gives free tuition to veterans.
“I’d like to combine my previous experience in the military and some of the skills that I acquired there along with an actual degree from a respectable university, like University of Dallas,” Magee said.
“I’d like to maybe even work with the state department or even just a think tank. I think I would continue to be in the sphere of politics and in the sphere of intelligence.”