In 2006 after long talks with recruiters and with my parents, I finally was able to enlist in the military. It was my Junior year of high school so I was part of the DEP. School wasn’t my thing, and unlike the majority of my over 1000 graduating class, I didn’t want to go to college. So I chose the US Army, along with 1 other person in my graduating class. Looking back, I would encourage myself to reconsider college.
I ended up deploying in 2010, coming back, and getting out in 2014. During that time I was in the US Army reserves, so I had the support at home and held low-end jobs to keep busy. I eventually went to community college to get an associates degree. I started out in an engineering program, which quickly turned into Fire Science. The rush of being a firefighter appealed to me, but it wasn’t long before I found out that it wasn’t really all it was cut out to be (no offense to any firefighters, I just didn’t like the medical side of it).
College and me
After barely completing that Associates, and now wasting time and the government’s money on getting a degree I will add to my wall in the office and never make use of, I decided to go full time into the job market. Scoring a lame ass job at a security company and getting paid barely minimum wage, I decided it was time to get back to school again. I realized that, now, living paycheck-to-paycheck was not my thing; and with my wife having more graduate student loans than we know what to do with, the change was needed.
I searched around for schools in my area that would provide me with the degree that would make me successful in the future and allow me to get out of the paycheck to paycheck life. Searching around for schools lead me to DeVry. Not only did they welcome me and break everything down “Barney style” for me, they had a strong military group at the school. The gathering of veterans each month to discuss military related topics and other items, allowed me to feel that belonging again.
Fast forward to roughly 2 years later and I’m in my last class for my degree. At times I felt like quitting – like I said before, school is tough – but the military instilled that “never quit” mentality in me, so I drove on.
My advice to anyone who is getting out or is already out – make use of your benefits. Go to school. All jobs will require you to have some sort of degree nowadays, and unless you want to live paycheck to paycheck, the only way to get ahead in life is to either win the lottery (the odds are currently 1 in 13,983,816), or getting your ass in class and getting your degree. I personally would bank on getting a degree.
To learn more about your college benefits to include school benefits, check out this site and make use of what you earned.
Spc. Kenneth Harkess – 12T (Technical Engineer Specialist). Enlisted from 2006 to 2014 US Army Reserves.
Deployed to Iraq 2010, was part of the draw down in Iraq and spent the rest of the year in Kuwait. Deployed with 329th Engineer Detachment out of Saint Cloud, MN.
313th Engineer Detachment out of Darien, IL