Monday, November 12, 2012

Student veteran finds success at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges

Tommy Marquez
In honor of Veterans Day, we profile another of the more than 2,000 veterans who attend Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.

Grossmont College student Tommy Marquez has time and again proved wrong the high school counselor who suggested he should limit his goals to working as a mechanic or gas station attendant.
After spending more than ten years in the Navy, including a deployment working with Navy Special Forces in Afghanistan, Marquez realized he needed to get a college education to prepare him for a civilian job. The Alpine resident said he choose Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges because other veterans told him the campuses were vet-friendly.
Marquez said teachers such as Grossmont College English Professor Sydney Brown and Cuyamaca College Child Development Instructor helped him realize that he is intelligent and capable.
 “It literally changed my life and my perspective on life,” Marquez said. “I not only got teachers, I got mentors. When I wanted to quit, they said, ‘Keep going. Don’t give up.’ It really gave me a boost of confidence.”
 He earned his AA degree in child development and a second AA degree in social and behavioral sciences, and he’s now taking classes at Grossmont that will allow him to transfer to San Diego State University in the spring. Since April, Marquez has been serving as the military and veterans caseworker for U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, assisting veterans who have issues involving their government benefits.
Marquez said he’s happy he can work through Hunter’s office to help other veterans who can benefit from his own experience.
“When I hang up that phone, I know I’ve made a difference,” Marquez said. “I don’t get a medal, but it feels good that I can pay it forward.”