Greg Hughes, Veteran

Greg Hughes

After graduating from high school, Greg Hughes decided to serve his country. He joined the Marines and went to Iraq as an infantryman. Coming home after four years, he formed his own construction business which did pretty well until 2008, when the housing market and construction industry crashed in the Great Recession.

Looking to reinvent himself, Greg came to the Rocklin campus, found the Veterans Resource Center where counselors told him about GI Bill benefits for veterans who attend college. "My first semester was rough," he recalled “Vets step into a different world. For example, in the military, it's 'rah rah rah' and perfectly normal for people to raise their voices. Here, you can't do that."

The college has "really stepped up" with the Center, he said, by providing counselors, computers to use, and a place to get together. For vets with traumatic brain injuries or PTSD, the Center has gone "above and beyond," he added. "They'll contact teachers and ask what can we do to help this student?"

Hughes described his first semester in general education as challenging. Then one of the counselors, aware of his work in construction, suggested he consider welding as a trade. So Greg marched over to Building H. "The instructors had worked in the industry and going there I saw so many students getting certified and then getting jobs, good jobs.”

As the end of the 2017 Spring Semester approached, Hughes knew he’d soon have his Associates Degree. "My wife was so proud," he said, though at the time he was thinking what do I do now? So, back to the Veterans counselors he went and was encouraged to get his industry certificates. And that he did in spades. He acquired certificates to qualify as a welding inspector and can now work in one of the best paying careers in the trade. "It was a bumpy road but I made it,” he said. “I couldn't have done it without the Veterans Center."