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Finding a Home in Santa Fe

August 9, 2017 | By Tim Pratt

Dan Marshall (SF05) loved Santa Fe so much that he moved back there more than a half decade after graduating.
Dan Marshall (SF05) loved Santa Fe so much that he moved back there more than a half decade after graduating.

When Dan Marshall visited St. John’s College in Santa Fe more than a decade ago, he went for a hike up Monte Sol.

The view from the mountain on the back side of campus had a profound effect on Marshall.

St. John’s and the city of Santa Fe sat below him. High-desert stretched out in the distance. Towering mountains stood near and far.

“My eyes teared up,” he says. “I had no idea what was happening. I think I fell in love.”

That love helped convince Marshall (SF05) to attend St. John’s, and eventually move back to New Mexico’s capital city more than a half decade after he graduated. He’s now married with children and works as an associate broker with Varela Real Estate, dealing primarily in residential sales.

“Life is good,” he says with a smile.

While the beauty of Santa Fe helped Marshall finalize his decision to come to St. John’s in 2001, it was the great books curriculum that drew his attention in the first place. He says he was looking for something different in a college, and recalls stumbling upon an entry for St. John’s in a book called “Cool Colleges.”

“I opened it, read it and said ‘Yup, that’s it,’” he says.

Marshall called the college and set up a tour in Santa Fe. He still remembers driving up the hill toward campus, arriving and being impressed by what he found there—the beauty and the curriculum. Then came the trek up Monte Sol, and he finalized his decision.

Marshall spent his first two years on the Santa Fe campus, then transferred to the Annapolis campus for a year before returning to Santa Fe to complete his degree. He was involved in student government, and helped facilitate events like parties, including a Mardi Gras event in Annapolis.

After graduating, Marshall says he moved to New York to “find” himself. A couple years later, he used his degree to qualify for officer candidate school in the United States Army.

“It was an excellent way to put into practice every day the great ideas I had read about: honor, truth, loyalty, the pursuit of what’s right,” he says.

In 2009, Marshall deployed to Iraq for a year. He says he met other Johnnies in the military, as well as non-Johnnies who shared similar traits as his former classmates, namely intelligence and thoughtfulness.

Marshall remained in the service until the fall of 2011. Then he decided to head back to New Mexico.

“Wherever I went—and I went many places—I always missed Santa Fe,” he says.

Marshall did some work in family counseling, using the same conversation skills he utilized at St. John’s to help people communicate with each other. He also worked as a taxi driver, and eventually went into auto sales.

“I did anything I could to live in Santa Fe,” he says.

Last year, Marshall moved into the real estate field. Again, he’s using previous experience—from St. John’s and his work as a counselor—to communicate with people and get to the root of what they want and need in a home.

“What I like about the job is it’s simple, but it also requires intelligence and integrity,” he says.

Marshall is helping people find homes in a place that he loves. It has natural beauty, culture, great food, art, museums and a “natural grandeur,” he says. 

“It’s an oasis,” he says.

While Marshall stays busy with work, he also enjoys spending time with his wife and children. He does tai-chi, too, which he says harmonizes his mind, body and spirit. He also still keeps in touch with some of his old classmates. They share a bond, he says, much like those with whom he served in the military.

“Being able to talk about those same books and authors is awesome,” he says. “It is sort of like being part of an elite military unit. You share a bond through this intense experience.”