Coast Guard Veteran Starts New Adventure At Howard Community College
After more than 10 years in the US Coast Guard, Michael Rones knew it was the right time to leave service and embark on a new adventure.
“Know that your dreams can change,” Rones explained, while speaking at Howard Community College’s (HCC) 2018 Veterans Day Celebration. “When dreams change, make a plan and chase the new ones.”
At 29 years old, Rones took time to reflect on his life and think about his future. He decided to leave the Coast Guard and travel for a year or so to “check in with reality.” He rock climbed in Alaska, went skiing in the Pacific Northwest, and diving in the Caribbean.
In January 2018, he yearned for something more, so he reached out to HCC’s Office of Veterans Affairs.
“Mike Griggs helped me through every step of enrollment,” Rones said. “He connected me with an academic advisor and helped me complete the paperwork to use my GI bill. Shortly after, classes started.”
It was an adjustment. Rones hadn’t sat in a classroom in years, and many of his classmates were fresh out of high school.
“Initially I thought the age difference and my decade out of the classroom would place me at a disadvantage, but I was surprised,” he said. “My professors were patient with me and helped me transition to academic life.
“I went from being a master at my craft in the Coast Guard to an environment that I should have felt like a fish out of water. But my professors were wonderful and helped me learn how to swim with the other students.”
Rones is enjoying his time at HCC and looks forward to transferring to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree.
“Reflecting on my transition from the military to student life, I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said. “Chasing a new dream might be a scary life change, but what scares me more than change is living a life I don’t love.”
HCC is proud to have over 300 veterans enrolled at the college this fall. These men and women represent all branches of the armed services, and they come from Maryland, as well as all over the United States. In addition to our students, many of HCC’s faculty and staff members are also veterans who have served around the world. For more information on Veterans and Military Services at HCC, visit howardcc.edu/veterans.