SAC President back at DMACC after 10 years in the Air Force

Chris-Peterson_editedIn 2001, Chris Peterson was attending DMACC as a student in the robotics program. He was struggling to find a way to pay for DMACC. He was eating ramen noodles and hot dogs every day. “Getting to eat Mickey D’s was a treasure,” he said.

He looked to the military as an option to help pay for DMACC.

Chris is now a returning student here at DMACC. He is in the Electronics Engineering degree program. Many of you may know him as the President of SAC. Before becoming a student at DMACC this time, he led a different life in the Air Force.

Chris enlisted when he was 24, in 2004, and spent 10 years as an active-duty staff sergeant. He wanted to join the military to get away from the cold, as well as to establish a career, and then be able to start a family

Chris had a brother in the Army at the time, so he was deciding between the Army or the Air Force. He does not like the water, so that eliminates the Navy and the Marines. He decided on the Air Force since the motels were nicer, they spend more money on their buildings and facilities, and the pay and benefits are the same for either branch of the military.

Therefore, as Chris said, “Once you get past the pride of which uniform you are wearing, you are left with the surrounding you have left to deal with day to day.”

In the Air Force, Chris was a 3D1X2, which is an AFSC or an Air Force Specialty Code. In laymen terms, 3D1X2 means that Chris was an electronic technician. It is similar to what he is doing at DMACC.

Chris started out with TV broadcast and security and did that for five years. After the five years, the Air Force merged several of the fields in order to save money and this was one of the fields that were merged.

The merger in Chris’s field happened in 2010. It happens more often in the fields with technology, because technology becomes obsolete or is no longer needed as much. After the merger, then came cutbacks.

The first rounds of cutbacks were of people who had been in trouble or had gotten in trouble, but after those were all gone still more cutbacks were needed.

That is when if you had ever had any infraction no matter how small it was used to lay you off in order to do cut backs.

Chris was one of the people who were cut during the second round of cutbacks.

During his time in the Air Force, he spent five years in Germany, fifteen months in Turkey, and seven months in Afghanistan.

His favorite and most exciting station assignment was while he was in Germany.

His job was a broadcast engineer. He was able to travel around Europe to install and update TV and radio equipment.

He worked on the big towers, but at the bottom of the tower. He was able to see Italy, Turkey, other parts of Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain, Portugal, and Azores.

Chris resumed classes again at DMACC for the spring semester of 2014-2015.

That is when he officially changed his major at DMACC from the robotics program to the Electronic and Engineering degree program. The last time Chris had attended a class at DMACC was over a decade ago in 2003.

The biggest difference he noticed while attending classes is the age difference, but that also varies by the class.

He is not the oldest in his classes; there are some that are older.

In his math class, he is the oldest. All electronics classes are all older students and vets around his age.

Chris faced a challenge common to active-duty vets: not knowing what to wear every day.

For the last ten years, he had been told what to wear and how to wear it.

He has had no sense of personal style or thoughts to care what is in fashion, because it was not allowed.

He is now 30 years old and the last time he owned civilian clothes that represented his personality were when he was a teenager.

The one thing he has done to develop personal style that was not allowed in the military is grow out a beard.

When he came to DMACC, he did not want to be stereotyped by wearing partial military clothing all the time.

He did not want to be labeled as “one of those guys.”

Chris’s reason why is, “the military is part of me, but I don’t want it to be the thing that defines me.

“Everybody has stories, but I want to make new stories and new memories. That is one reason why I am here at DMACC,” he said.

Chris plans to get his degree in electronic engineering tech AAS, which is in the STEM field.

He wants to become a bio medical technician to work for a hospital to fix there large equipment such as MRI machines or CAT scan machines.

While Chris is attending classes at DMACC he is also participating in SAC.

This year Chris is the president of SAC. This has helped Chris get more involved with the school and meet more people.

Joining the military has helped Chris to pay for DMACC.

He now has a better understanding of the career field that he wants to go into as well as the work experience in it.

Chris no longer has to eat ramen noodles every day. He is now ready to start making new memories here at DMACC.

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