After meeting Dustin Badoni it’s obvious that he was a Marine Sargent. Everything is yes sir and no sir, and his posture is perfect as we discuss his 8 years of military service and what he has accomplished while at Coconino Community College. After 2 years of duty in Iraq Badoni has experienced something that only other veterans can truly understand. He won’t talk about the way, but he will say that the rewarding portion of his mission was when he was able to help the people of Iraq, knowing that his efforts were appreciated by those in need. Badoni said he only shares the other experiences with fellow vets that were there and I understand. Changing the focus from the past to the present, we discussed his time at CCC. Badoni seemed to relax as if transferring from soldier to student as the conversation continued. Like many other veterans after his honorable discharge from the service, Badoni felt lost. It was a difficult time, but there was a tipping point that triggered his interest in going to college. Raised in Flagstaff, Coconino Community College was the perfect fit for him. He applied the discipline he learned as a Marine to his new career as student, succeeding quickly in spite of working at Nackard Beverage and participating in extracurricular activities as a member of Phi Theta Kappa while going to school. Dustin received his General Studies degree and 2 certificates in spring 2011, and he plans to attend the University of Arizona to seek a degree in engineering upon his graduation from CCC. Badoni said, “Math has always come easy for me, but I also enjoy anthropology, partly because it made me think about the different cultures I was able to observe as I traveled around the world as a Marine.” The faculty at CCC was very supportive, but still challenged me intellectually. Reuben Salazar in Veteran Services was a great confident; as a veteran he could relate to what I went through after my honorable discharge.” A first generation student, Badoni lamented the fact that only 5-7% of the veterans in his particular classification use the benefits they have earned to go to college. He said that the benefits he receives are not extravagant, but enough to help considerably, Badoni said, “The military has a knack of giving you just enough to get by, not making the road easy, but enough to help if you are motivated to succeed. “Badoni’s dream job would be designing automobiles for one of the large manufacturers and all at CCC would love to see him achieve that goal. But for now, just helping a fine young make the difficult transition from veteran to citizen is reward enough for the staff and faculty at CCC.
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