In the spring of 2013, at the age of 37, I enrolled at the HCC Plant City Campus. It was my first time attending school in a formal classroom setting. Having been home schooled, I found numerous barriers to entering college, so after high school, I went to work for the two-family businesses: Burgin Farms; and Exeter International, a travel company specializing in Russia and Eastern Europe. Though I had no formal education, I found a passion for serving my country and community through politics, working for the Republican Party of Florida, the Florida House Communications Office and as a Legislative Aide. My political and travel experience helped me secure a position with the International Republican Institute as Resident Country Director in Kazakhstan. Upon returning to the U.S. I was hired as the Executive Director of the Hillsborough County Republican Party. Though I worked hard and was dedicated to my career, I knew that a lack of formal education was holding me back, so with the encouragement of my wife, I enrolled at HCC. CLEP courses allowed me to complete an A.A. in liberal arts in 12 months. My professors at HCC encouraged me to continue my education and I took their advice, earning a B.A.S. in Supervision and Management with a concentration in Public Administration from Polk College. In 2016, I graduated with my master’s degree from the Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. I owe a great debt of thanks to HCC. They not only offered a structured education, but many people within in the system supported me, and encouraged me on my educational path.