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Morgan Co. student had no doubts about higher education

April 04, 2010|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.VA. -- Call it having good parents, good teachers and good sense -- or just good luck when you know what path to take early in your life.

Local resident Robert Dugan III, 20, a third-year student at Shepherd University, chartered a course a long time ago that included higher education.

"I always wanted to graduate college. I never had any doubt in my mind," Dugan said.

"In my family, education was the prime goal and it still is," Dugan said.

He is the son of Bobby and Stacy Dugan and has two younger siblings at home.

Dugan also has a job at Rankin Physical Therapy, and he said attending school and working is not new to him. He's been doing it since he was 15.

Making extra money to purchase things that he wanted was supported by his parents, he said.

"If I wanted something I had to work for it," Dugan said.

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He wants to practice corporate law after he gets his law degree from West Virginia University Law School in Morgantown, W.Va., he said, which he plans to begin after graduating from Shepherd University.

He said getting a business degree from Shepherd is the most applicable, and was suggested by his grandfather, Bob Dugan, who is a "big influence on me" like his parents.

Reading was encouraged by his parents and he said he read at a higher level at an early age.

Other influences were good teachers like Kenny Simms, who emphasized the value of reading and introduced cursive writing in the second grade, and fourth-grade teachers Barbara Whisner and Lynn Keenan, who gave him good instruction in his advanced program classes.

He said his high school AP English teacher, Sarah Morris "is the reason I am minoring in English," he said.

But Dugan remembers friends that did not chart the same course and it was not because they lacked the opportunity to go on to school, he said.

They started using drugs.

He had good times in their company in high school but because of the drug use things fell apart after graduation in 2007, he said.

"I still care for these guys, I'm very fond of them. I would have liked to have seen their lives turn out differently," Dugan said.

"But everybody has a choice," he said even if you're poor, lack parenting or have good parenting."

"I knew I wanted more for me. I knew I wanted something that substance abuse would take from me," Dugan said.

Dugan said a drug rehab program is needed for youth in Berkeley Springs.

"There is nothing in Morgan County and people have to travel to Martinsburg, The joke is 'if you could afford help, you did not have a problem.'"

Debbie Flowers, drug prevention specialist for the Morgan County Partnership, said "it's more than lack of service ... in the county. It's also the lack of parents' involvement in their lives."

"As parents, we believe our kids are making the right choices and not choosing risky behavior, but sometimes they're not," Flowers said.

Dugan said for those with a drug problem you start first with education to get a job, but "you have to want to apply yourself," he said. "You have to want it enough to make a fundamental change in the way you live."

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