My first form of higher education was through the military. I became a certified wheeled vehicle mechanic and worked on everything from the HMMWV (A.K.A. Humvee) to the MRAPs (Mine Resistant and Protected) vehicles. When I left the Army I quickly learned that those certifications aren’t transferable in the civilian world even though the skills are exactly the same. That is something I would like to change.
Realizing the barriers to getting my ASE certification as a Mechanic, I opted for a certification in business management through Stonemakers Academy. Starting the business I wanted required sending forms out to be welded. Since I already had some experience welding in my military career and wanting to keep my start costs down, I took an opportunity to become certified as a dual-shield mig welder. However, shortly after completing my welding class I was offered a very lucrative position welding ODOT dump trucks and passed up opening a business.
I was offered a part-time position expanding a peer support program for veterans after being recognized for my work in the community. About 4 months later, I became certified as a Peer Support Specialist and left my welding position to take on the program management position full-time. This was a clear decision considering my passion for supporting veterans.
I’m currently using my G.I. Bill benefits to continue education and complete my Associates of Arts transfer degree and will later move on to Western Oregon University to finish my Bachelors.