Travis Gordon attended Mines from 1989-91, leaving in the middle of his degree to enter the U.S. Marine Corps. He reenrolled back at Mines during summer 2014 as a petroleum engineering student.
‘Marv Kay came to my house and sat down with my parents. Marv and my father went to school together, and even though Marv was a little older, my dad knew who he was. It was at that point, I decided to go to Mines,’ Gordon said. The common bond between the former Mines alumni provided Gordon with the trust he needed in his new coach and college commitment.
In his first two years at Mines, Gordon enjoyed playing football and rugby, but wasn’t interested in the academics. He recalls a ‘less professional student’ version of himself. Several of Gordon’s friends were in the Marines and encouraged him to try something different. Inspired by the physical nature of the Marines, Gordon left Mines to enlist in spring 1992. Soon after his enlistment began, he completed his Marines bachelor’s degree and was commissioned, pursuing flight school where he was designated as a Naval Flight Officer. Over the subsequent years, Gordon progressed through the ranks until he was selected to be a commanding officer. In his 21-year military career, Gordon traveled to more than 10 countries, including Iraq where he participated in Operations Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom, and Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
After more than two decades in the Marines, Gordon realized that if he wanted to finish what he had started at Mines, he would have to leave the military.
‘I decided I wanted to get out (of the Marine Corps) when I was young enough to do something else. I spent several years away from my family and I wanted to get back to be close with them.’
Gordon reenrolled at Mines this past spring, and is a full-time petroleum engineering student. He chose the major due to family influence and his interest in an occupation that balanced aspects of intellectual and physical demands.
Although he realizes it might seem odd that he’s more than 20 years older than most of his classmates, he believes it keeps him young at heart.
Over 23 years, Gordon noted the modernization of the Mines campus, including increased access to computer labs, simulators and wireless technologies. While he’s impressed with the new buildings on campus, Gordon appreciates some of the old architecture that he remembers from his first years at Mines.
Golden has become ‘trendier’ since the early 1990s, Gordon said, but he still enjoys frequenting older watering holes, such as the Ace High Tavern. ‘When I was here before, the Foss family businesses dominated Washington Street, now the only place I recognize from before is Ace.’
For now, Gordon is focused on graduating Mines in spring 2016, spending anywhere from 60 to 80 hours on campus per week.
‘I’m very happy to be here and extremely thankful to all the people who gave me an opportunity for a second chance to accomplish my goals and improve myself.’