Luke Kramarz '14, US Army

Most college graduates celebrate with their friends and family after the ceremony, but Luke Kramarz ’14 had something much different planned. Luke and his fiancé Elaine (Belen) Kramarz ’14 immediately married just two hours after graduation at Lewis University, and one hour after he was commissioned into the U.S. Army.  

Luke currently serves as an Infantry Officer for the U.S. Army in Kosovo, as part of the NATO mission. Their peace-keeping mission descends from international efforts to build peace and stability in an area where significant conflict took place in the late 1990’s.

Luke began his time as an Infantry Officer in Ft. Benning, Georgia where he finished his training, before being stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado, where he now resides. “As a junior Infantry Officer, I have been trained to lead small groups of about 40 soldiers to accomplish combat tasks such as establishing security checkpoints or seizing terrain during a battle,” says Luke. “However, the NATO mission is very different from anything I was trained for.”

This lightly publicized mission has helped maintain stability for the past 17 years in a historically unstable region located in Europe. “It is a very peaceful mission, but one with plenty of opportunities for soldiers to better themselves, namely in interpersonal skills,” Luke says. “I lead a small team of soldiers with a goal of establishing relationships with civilians, in an effort to help this country continue to move forward.”

Having emigrated to the U.S. from Poland in 1997, Luke has made it a goal of his to give back to a country that has presented him with so many opportunities. During this mission in Kosovo, Luke and his soldiers have focused their energy on attending classes with children, playing sports with them, and coordinating events such as concerts.

“My personal goal here in Kosovo is to spend as much time as possible in schools, as I firmly believe that if anyone will finally be able to completely overcome the biases that still exist here, it will be the kids,” adds Luke.

Luke’s favorite part of this job is to play a part in bringing opportunities for positive change and a better life - such as getting a water pump donated to a school – to people in the area. “That water pump may not seem like a big deal to most, but when it means that that school will now have drinkable water, it is a huge accomplishment,” says Luke with a smile.

Luke plans on transitioning from the Infantry into Civil Affairs sometime in the next few years. “I have enjoyed this mission, especially working with a small team that focuses on helping people, and as there are elements of Civil Affairs that do this, I plan on trying to do that,” Luke says.

Graduating from Lewis University with a bachelor’s degree in History, Luke felt well prepared for this next chapter in his life. He attributes much of his personal and professional success to Dr. James Tallon and Dr. Ewa Bacon of the Lewis University History department, both of whom inspired him and pushed him to try new things. Also having taken a philosophy class taught by Dr. Tracey Nicholls, he learned the importance of a well-rounded education and looking outside of your comfort zone. “Before I took her class, I had no interest in philosophy or sociology; however, to my surprise, I really enjoyed her class and learned things that I never thought I needed to know beforehand,” adds Luke. 

In his free time, Luke is working on publishing his first written fantasy novel and working on his second, in hopes that that they will be part of a three or four part series. He also looks forward to any time he can spend with his wife and Lewis alumna, Elaine, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and is teaching Kindergarten in Colorado. 

“The most difficult part of the job is being away from my wife,” says Luke. “Fortunately, this mission allowed us to take an eight-day vacation, which we elected to take in Greece. However, seeing Elaine for eight days out of ten months is pretty difficult.” 

A loving husband and dedicated Infantry Officer, Luke has set his goals very high, and will stop at nothing to achieve them. He would encourage others to push themselves, just like he does every day, to step out of their comfort zone and seek out opportunities to succeed.


October 2016

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