From Army to college

vargas family photo

Michael, Angelina and Tracy Vargas soon after Angelina's birth.

Tracy '07 and Michael Vargas '07 gave birth to their first child January 31.

Tracy and Michael were in the army and met while they were stationed in Germany. Now both of them are attending Adams State College on the GI Bill.

"I joined the army because I wanted money for college," Tracy said. "I knew I wanted to be a nurse and needed money for college."

Michael almost turned down the opportunity for the GI Bill.

"I enlisted right out of high school," Michael said. "A sergeant talked me into signing up for the GI Bill. I hadn't ever had any thoughts of going to college."

The decision to put aside money for college came back more than twenty-fold according to Michael.

"I worked at Coors for a couple of years after I got out of the army," Michael said. "Tracy motivated me to start college. Even when I was young I dreamed of becoming a fish and game warden."

Michael is a biology major.

"This is not an easy course to go," Michael said. "The math classes have been the hardest, that and genetics."

He said he is really glad to be in school and loves his major, "even if it is tough."

Dr. Guy Farish, professor of Biology, said he enjoyed having Michael in class.

"Michael is probably one of the most conscientious students I've had in 12 years of teaching," Farish said. "Last year he took a distance-ed chemistry course over the summer to meet one of his prerequisites for our sophomore biology courses. He passed the class and met the prerequisite, but he chose to repeat the chemistry course at ASC because he was disappointed with the quality of the distance course."

Farish said he believes Michael's qualities will serve him well in any profession.

"He is exceedingly polite and cooperative and works extremely hard at his studies," Farish said. "He is very dependable, always prepared for class, and shows excellent leadership skills by motivating other students to follow his example. He will be excellent at dealing with the public, will be a hard worker, and should be a terrific candidate for advancement into a leadership position."

According to Tracy, the GI Bill pays for tuition, books and expenses for four years. She said the VA representative on campus sends the appropriate paper work to the army.

"We rely on the campus staff to get the paperwork done in a timely fashion," said Michael. "It is our only paycheck."

Tracy said she continued on past the registered nurse level because she values higher education.

"There is nothing like education," Tracy said. "Having a bachelor of science in nursing opens up opportunities in the nursing field and many larger cities require a BSN."

Dr. Marty Jones, professor of chemistry said he believes Tracy is a hard worker and a good role model. Tracy was in his Introductory Chemistry class.

"One of the students in my Introductory Chemistry was a pre-nursing student," Jones said. "Tracy was generous with her time and advice for how to get admitted to and be successful in the nursing program. Tracy was unquestionably a mentor for that student."

Tracy said future goals include earning a master's degree after she has had some working and administrative experience.

"Tracy's kind heart, natural talent, attention to detail, and inquisitiveness will help her to become an excellent nurse," Jones said.

Tracy's class load this semester includes 17 credit hours and by next fall she will be taking all BSN classes, she said.

"I returnied to class immediately after the baby was born," Tracy said. "My mom, sister and friend help us with Angelina."

Both Tracy and Michael said they believe serving in the army was beneficial in more ways than financing school.

"It teaches discipline and responsibility," Tracy said.

"I agree," Michael said. "It has been helpful when I need to concentrate on homework and studies."

Tracy said the professors have made their experience at Adams State College more than a learning experience.

"I love Dr. Marty Jones', professor of chemistry, teaching style," Tracy said. "I have found the nursing faculty to be very helpful. I love school."

Michael said a college education is more than just earning a degree.

"It makes you smarter about your surroundings," Michael said. "It teaches you to ask questions rather than just go along with the flow."