As a high school student more than a decade ago, 1st Lt. Jesse Hoffman wasn’t sure he wanted to go to college. Then he took eight years to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Hoffman needed the extra time to graduate because when he wasn’t taking history classes, spending time with his fraternity brothers or playing football at Franklin College, he was serving with the Indiana National Guard. That service has continued for more than 10 years and includes deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Friday, Hoffman shared his experiences at Franklin College with about 100 people, about half of whom were veterans. He told the group about the responsibilities and challenges he faced as a college student and a soldier, which included a drinking problem, and how he went on to become a first-generation college graduate.
Hoffman started thinking about a military career when he was 15 after a friend started talking about the National Guard. Hoffman had planned to join the Marine Corps as soon as he graduated high school, but his parents talked him out of it; and instead he enrolled in Manchester College in North Manchester in 2001.
But on Sept. 11, after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C., Hoffman feared he’d made the wrong choice. He was filled with rage after seeing the second plane hit the World Trade Center and again was committed to joining the Marines.
Hoffman probably would have made it to Marine boot camp if his recruiter hadn’t inadvertently called his parents’ house instead of his dorm. His parents told the recruiter he needed to at least finish his semester at Manchester.