'I Never Thought I'd Get to Go to College'

The GI Bill opens a path to Ron Shriver's boyhood dream

A Veteran and Father Graduates From a College He Long Dreamed of Attending 3

Matt Roth for The Chronicle

Ron Shriver, 29, who served eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps, used the Post-9/11 GI Bill to attend McDaniel College, in northern Maryland. He grew up just a few miles away and is the first in his family to earn a degree.

Long before sunrise, Ron Shriver takes a seat at the dining-room table of his family's large, yellow farmhouse. As he pores over handwritten notes, the lighted windows behind him cast a glow into the chilly darkness of the surrounding valley. Two old dogs nap near the front door.

It's a Wednesday late in the semester, and Mr. Shriver, a senior at McDaniel College nearby, has an exercise-physiology exam in a few hours. He rose at 3:30 a.m., as he does on most test days, to cram in a