As you no doubt figured out from the domain name, my name is Paul Szoldra. I’m a creator, builder, writer, and veterans expert.
…It probably all started right around the time we got our first computer in the house. It was a 50Mhz Acer PC with a blazing fast 28.8bps modem. Soon after connecting to America Online, I was hooked. I frequently stayed up late, learning HTML and creating my own websites (including very popular [and horrible looking by today's standards of design] fan pages for Top Gun and Star Wars).
Later on down the road, I ended up teaching myself more advanced HTML, PHP, and dabbled in Linux. Eventually I discovered graphic design tools like Adobe Photoshop and further extended my skill set. I also developed an interest in photography which continues to this day.
I probably would have gone to college after high school to further pursue my passion, but in my senior year, the attacks of 9/11 took place, and I made a choice to join the United States Marine Corps. I served for eight years from 2002-2010 as an Infantry Mortar-man (Ammo Man, A-Gunner, Gunner, Squad Leader, and Forward Observer billets) and as an Infantry Instructor. My time in the military took me throughout the world, to include Japan, Korea, Philippines, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Afghanistan.
After leaving the military, I moved to Florida (where I currently reside) and began college at The University of Tampa. Besides majoring in Business Entrepreneurship, I have also helped other student veterans as a Gateways Mentor, served as the Vice President of the University of Tampa Student Veterans Organization, and become heavily involved with the UT Entrepreneurs Club.
Despite my separation from the military, I have still tried to maintain my connection — starting a student veteran college resource at CollegeVeteran.com as well as creating a popular military humor website called The Duffel Blog.
Also due to my work within the veteran community and being an unofficial GI Bill guru, I have been interviewed for stories or quoted in a variety of news sources.
You can view my full resume here.
Here is what I’m currently up to these days.
“Paul is a rock star. I came on as a Duffel Blog contributor when the site was getting only a couple dozen views and a handful of fans on Facebook. I’ve watched him grow the site to hundreds of thousands of page views a month and (at the time of this writing) over 40,000 Facebook fans.
Given that, he obviously understands web development and social media, but I’d say that’s because he understands people. Do you know how well he understands people? He manages 30 contributors who write content for the site. He somehow gives 30 writers–writers with egos, who are quirky enough to be funny–enough creative latitude to write content that is fresh, hilarious, and authentic, while at the same time keeping enough control so that the site maintains a consistent editorial vision and doesn’t fly off the tracks.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that I don’t know anyone else who could accomplish what Paul has with the Duffel Blog. The dude makes stuff happen.” -Ron Gullekson
“Creative genius and superb writer. Will be famous very soon.” -Rob Joswiak
“I recommend Paul Szoldra in whatever endeavor he participates. His qualities as a person and his work ethic and capabilities in the workplace are limitless.” -David Baker
“Paul is and was an outstanding professional exemplified through his work ethic and leadership capabilities. As director of the internship program which Paul was associated with, I recognized right from the beginning that he was an extraordinary candidate and one who we had to have in our program. Paul was a great inspiration to the entire group and a privilege to work with.” -Jason Williams
“I’ve known Paul for two years and he is nothing short of a superstar…Paul is highly professional and has an upbeat, positive disposition. He is a natural leader, dedicated student and model veteran.” -Dr. Kenneth Knapp
“It was my privilege to work with Paul backstage in the scoring and media control center at the 2009 CrossFit Games. I was extremely impressed by Paul’s professionalism, leadership, outstanding work ethic and “can-do” attitude. He delivered the goods and kept on smiling! Paul is exactly the sort of person you want on your team.” -Daniel Freedman
“Paul was a very fast learner, who was able to quickly think and determine possible solutions in stressful situations. He was a motivator, and very pleasant to work with. He was always coming up with ideas to improve the work flow and was able to determine a great free solution to prevent fraud, something completely outside of his job description. With his experience as a Marine and his schooling you will be lucky to hire someone like Paul.” -Miguel Velasco
“Paul Szoldra set himself apart as a top performer due to his dedication, intelligence, consistant profesionalism, and superior results delivered in all tasks assigned. I would actively seek to serve or work with Paul again given any opportunity and I reccommend him for whatever future job he chooses to pursue. His leadership potential and trustworthiness cannot be overstated. A true patriot, Marine’s Marine, and dynamic young man whose potential is limitless.” -Adam Latham
“Paul’s value to our staff was unquestionable to the success of the battalion. I personally placed tasks and duties that were outside the parameters of his expertise and was never disappointed with the end results. When I start my own personal business I pray to have at least one Paul Szoldra on my team, of course 10 would be best. His maturity, organization skills, intelligence, and initiative are well beyond what I consider character for his age and level of exposure in the Marine Corps.” -Roy Taylor
“I give Paul my highest recommendation!” -Col. Daniel Wilson
- 1st Place, Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference Pitch Competition, 2012
- University of Tampa Dean’s List, Spring 2011
- 1st Place at USF St. Pete DEMO Day, 2011
- 2nd Place, University of Tampa CREATE Business Plan Competition, 2011
- Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal, 2009
- Certificate of Commendation, 2008
- “Gung Ho” Award, 2005
- Letter of Appreciation, 2005
- Meritorious Mast, 2003
Appearances in the Media
- Marine Infantry Veterans Foundation Helps Raise Awareness for Wounded Warriors With Labor Day Bike Event – Newsday
- Fake military news site gains traction – Columbia Journalism Review
- Former Marine Pokes Fun at Military With Website – Military.com
- Satirical website The Duffel Blog dupes news sites with bogus stories – NBC News
- Military satire site manages to fool some people – The Tampa Tribune
- The Military’s Version Of The Onion Is Now So Popular Its Server Just Crashed – Business Insider
- The Duffel Blog’s fake military news hits the spot – USA Today
- Satirical military news site fools some readers – Army Times
- Vet-targeted website to be handed over to Feds - Wall Street Journal
- Veterans seek better information regarding educational benefits – The Daily Illini
- War to College: Student Vet Helps Soldiers Make the Transition – TakePart
- Efforts Focus on Helping Veterans Find the Right College - US News & World Report
- Veteran Urges Popular College Rankings To Include Veteran Friendly Statistics - Huffington Post
- Connections: Entrepreneur Clubs Ideate, Create Solutions For the World – 83 Degrees Media
- With GI Bill’s Billions at Stake, Colleges Compete to Lure Veterans - Chronicle of Higher Education
- U.S. Veterans Targeted By Marketers in College Selection Process - ABC News
- CollegeVeteran.com Fills a Need in Helping Military Members Transition to the Classroom - San Francisco Chronicle
- Entrepreneurship conference at UT highlights the brightest ideas - Bay News 9