Alton Hill: From Graveyard Worker to Graduate
Alton Hill’s enthusiasm is contagious even through the phone as he talks about his transition from high-school-educated worker to a junior network computer engineer at Hakott, Inc. in California. Working another grave shift at a dead-end job on New Year’s Eve in 2011 was the push he needed to change his career path. “I realized I was working so hard, but I had nowhere else to go at that point,” he explains. Gaining more skills was his only option for improvement.
After receiving several mailers from California College San Diego, he enrolled in their information technology program. Student advisor Kristen McCracken enjoyed having him at the San Marcos campus because of his friendly nature. “Whenever I would pass Alton through the halls, I would always be greeted with a smile.”
Alton continued to smile despite the initial sacrifices he had to make to finish his degree 21 months later. He worked full-time during the day, so he became a full-time night student. Driving straight from work to take night classes, he fit in homework during late hours and lunch breaks. Dean of Education Jason Marks also acknowledged, “He rarely missed class and was always wiling to stay after and ask questions of his instructors.”
To find time for college, Alton also had to give up some favorite hobbies such as coaching kids sports teams to make the time to improve himself. McCracken explains, “I know this was a challenge, but [with Alton] one would never know it. He came to campus with an open mind and positive attitude, never letting an obstacle get in the way of graduation.”
Sometimes life got in the way, but ultimately Alton enjoyed his experience. “My favorite part about CCSD was learning things that I knew would benefit me as a citizen,” he explains. History and psychology became as important as his time management and computer courses. “There were times when I could look into my teacher’s eyes and know that this would definitely help me in life.”
Alton’s dedication to school is one of the many things Marks credits to Alton’s success. “He was willing to open up to the education process and grow as a person during his time at CCSD.”
Results Of His Degree
Since completing his associate’s degree in computer programming, he’s not only able to return to the coaching box, but he now has a more stable work life applying his school skills and acquiring new ones.
But it’s not just his new job and pay grade that has him continuing to smile. “Overall, I feel a lot more prepared to handle daily situations—how to manage my time, how to plan out projects, how to type an email properly to a colleague. I am ten times more confident in myself.” After balancing work and school and putting his new degree to work, he has plenty to be confident about.
Although change is difficult, Alton has truly benefited from his hard-earned effort, and he enjoys setting that example for other people. To anyone who is on the fence about going back to school or struggling to continue their own educational goals he said this: “Believe me, California College San Diego will definitely help you reach your goals. If you really want it and put in the work, you can have a degree and be on your way to a new life and a successful career. It really works.”
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