Imagine spending years in college and earning your degree, only to be turned away. That was the case for Alun Thomas who moved to the United States from New Zealand 20 years ago.
“One of the difficulties moving from another country is the education systems differ,” said Thomas. “In New Zealand, a bachelor’s degree is three years, where in American it’s four. So they would say, ‘Well, you only have the equivalent of an associate’s degree.'”
Thomas, whose schooling was now incomplete in the United States, was having a hard time finding the job of his dreams.
“I always wanted to pursue a journalism type career,” said Thomas. But instead, he was working retail and warehouse-type jobs.
His dream wasn’t to work warehouse jobs, but Thomas needed the money to help support his family.
In looking for a way to attain his dream job, this 31-year-old father of two enlisted in the U.S. Army.
“It was a huge shock to the system. I was dealing with a lot of teenagers. 17/18 years old,” said Thomas.
Thomas served a tour in Iraq in 2009 and 2010 as a photojournalist. He documented life in the U.S. Army from the front lines.
“Just getting to document what soldiers do when they’re deployed,” said Thomas. “The things they go through on a daily basis, the struggles, the missions. It really was a great experience for me.”
The Army has more than 180 career opportunities. You can join up as young as 18 years old. Some of the benefits of joining up include a free education and help with job placement and service.
“We do have the Montgomery G.I. bill that will pay for your education,” said David S. Clukey, Commander at the U.S. Army Downtown Recruiting Battalion. “We partner with local businesses so they have somebody that may have the skill they’re looking for that they can cherry pick from.”
For Alun Thomas, that brought everything full circle when he took a job with a U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion in Downtown Phoenix as the Chief of Advertising and Public Affairs.
“I love Mr. Thomas. He loves his job and really goes the extra mile on everything he does,” said Commander Clukey
“This is what the Army’s all about, and I really love telling the Army’s story,” said Thomas.