Joel ’16 – Canterbury, CT
I am currently majoring in psychology at Eastern Connecticut State University.
Have you attended college in the past or have a degree from another institution?
I took classes at QVCC back in 1997. However, I was not ready to go to college after high school, so my time at QVCC in 90s was short lived. I returned to QVCC after leaving the Army and received an associate’s degree in 2016.
I know you are a veteran. Tell me more about your military service.
I am an Army veteran who served as a rifleman in the 3rd Infantry Division on a Bradley A2. I was stationed at Ft. Benning GA and Camp New Jersey Await, and was deployed to Oman and Pakistan. When we invaded Iraq during Operation Shock and Awe and Operation Thunder Run, I was in the first squad across the border. Towards the end of my active duty career, I became a single father of three little boys, returned to Connecticut, joined the National Guard, and declassed as military police.
Why did you choose to attend QVCC?
When I decided to go back to school, I was thinking of two schools—Three Rivers and QVCC. Three Rivers was a little bit closer, but I decided to attend QVCC because of the teaching faculty and the tight knit family that QVCC has proven to be.
Starting college later in life can be intimidating. Can you explain your feelings about taking this step?
I was extremely nervous coming back to school and did not know what to expect. I definitely learned a work ethic in the service that helped me to be more disciplined than I was right out of high school.
How did you overcome some of the obstacles or emotions which were standing in the way of starting college?
I almost did not come back to school—I wasn’t sure if I could afford it. I consider myself to be lucky to have the Post 911 GI Bill. Believe me, this is not free money—it was earned by all veterans. This is the tough route to take if you’re using it to just go to school. But that being said, it pays the bills while I am a student.
What has been the best part of being a QVCC student?
The life long friends you make—both students and faculty—as well as all the events and clubs. I had the privilege of being president of both the Psychology Club and GI Guardians.
Who at the college has been a positive influence on you and why?
As a member of the Psychology Club I went to the EPA Conference in both Philadelphia and New York City to present research with Dr. Chu, professor of psychology. The GI Guardians, working with Pam Brown, do a lot for the veterans’ community, both on and off campus. Both these women are wonderful people who add much to the QVCC community!
What is advice can you give to someone who might be interested in going to college and considering QVCC?
I would say take the plunge and go for it! Put in an effort, make friends, ask for help when needed, and never give up.
What would you like to share with another veteran who is thinking about starting college?
This is a hard one, because I don’t believe in pressuring veterans who may still have a lot on their plate. My advice would be to take care of yourself first. If you’re not ready, don’t go back to school. When the time comes, you will be fresh and ready to begin classes here at QVCC.
Share some additional information about yourself – where you work, hobbies, volunteer work, etc.
When not at ECSU, I work for the college’s Veterans Affairs Office under Pam Brown.
I like to build things, be with my family, and visit the family cabin in Vermont as much as possible. In the fall I love going to Wells, Maine and walking on the beach. I am a husband and father of five boys, and we have a hobby farm with about 32 chickens. In the summer I will either be at my fire pit here in Canterbury or my fire pit in Rockingham, Vermont, I love being outdoors and enjoy having friends and family around as much as possible!