Go back

Thomas Fuss poses for photo in Clement building

Thomas Fuss

“My greatest fear coming here (after a 22-year career in the Army) was I only knew about college what I had seen on TV. With the professors, I thought there’d be animosity because we’d all be about the same age. But when I started, it wasn’t like that at all.”
Major: Sociology and Political Science
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Involvement: Works with ADAPT, or After Deployment: Adaptive Parenting Tools, which helps military families (in this case, Fort Campbell families) cope with life after deployment

After a 22-year Army career and a couple of years working in building maintenance, retired Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Fuss faced a decision.

The Clarksville company he worked for was moving to Nashville. He could move with it or start college.

“As soon as I got out (of the Army), I was just scared,” said Fuss, who retired as an Army vehicle maintenance supervisor after five combat tours. “I was indoctrinated by the military, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s a whole different subculture than higher education. I thought I wouldn’t be able to survive, between the age difference (from traditional college students) and the education, I’d never survive.

“But after the company moved to Nashville, I thought, ‘Well, my body is starting to hurt,’ and I couldn’t do physical labor much longer like that,” Fuss said. “I rolled the dice. I came back to college and started the 101 classes.”

His son, William Fuss, 26, made the decision easier. William earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Austin Peay, which inspired his dad.

“I was going to be a business major, my dad and brother are business majors,” the elder Fuss said. “I took my first sociology class, and I was, ‘Oh, this is far better!’

“Being in the Army is a lot like sociology,” he said as he explained the draw of the major. “When you read sociology, it’s taking care of people, it’s finding what’s going on in that environment. When you’re in the Army, you look at bringing people to our side, which we call ‘Hearts and Minds.’ When you read a sociology book, you try to do the same thing. We try to find what the solution is, how to rectify that and start building a better foundation, a society or culture.”

Fuss plans to earn a sociology master’s degree online after graduation.

“I’m grateful for APSU. I’m grateful my son came here.”