A Graduation Reflection from Todd Hughes

Todd Hughes is the former Student Government President at USF Sarasota-Manatee. Hughes is also an Army Veteran who earned a degree in History in Spring 2014.

Todd Hughes USFSM

I knew I wanted to be a soldier for as long as I can remember. My dad was in the Army, and while I was not born until after he got out I always played with his old gear. I have always been very patriotic, so as soon as I was eligible, I enlisted. I signed up for the Oklahoma army National Guard the day after my 17th birthday while I was a junior in high school. I went Active Duty Army as soon as I could. I spent a total of five years in the military with about two being in the National Guard and three on Active Duty. I deployed to Iraq with the 1st Calvary Division from March 2004 through March of 2005. I chose to get out of the Army a few months after we got home. My wife, whom I met in the Army, was pregnant with our first child, and we were going to deploy again soon. I did not want to take a chance on leaving my child fatherless. We settled in my wife’s hometown of Sarasota. We eventually got involved in youth ministry with a local church and had another child. Not long after we took a break from this ministry to go back to school using the GI Bill, one of the boys we worked with called us and said his mother had just abandoned him. He did not know what to do. Without hesitation, we added a third, much older, child to our family. Now, not only are my wife and I attending college, both first generation, so is our oldest son, and I could not be more proud.

As I finish my time as Student Government Association president and complete my bachelor’s degree in History from USF Sarasota-Manatee, I think that without the discipline and structure I received from the Army, I may not have made it this far. While I do miss my fellow soldiers, I am thankful to have served the student body of USFSM this past year, 2013-2014. I had the opportunity to work with some amazing people—some being fellow students as well as faculty and staff. As I move on to the next chapter of my life, I will always have the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and the extraordinary people here engrained in my memory just as I do with  my time and friends from the Army.