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Graduate Spotlight: Jacob Bunch

05/04/2021

35-year-old Jacob Bunch will deliver the Pledge of Allegiance at this year's Commencement ceremony, celebrating the Class of 2021, to be held virtually on Friday, May 7. 

 

A veteran of the United States Army and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Jacob is a leader in all walks of life. 

 

In 2014, he decided it was time for his next chapter and came home to be with his family, permanently. For the following years, he owned and operated his own construction company, starting out in residential jobs and eventually doing projects as large as hotel remodels. 

 

Originally from Indiana, he and his family made the move to Florida in 2018, where he made the decision to pursue an education. 

 

In the fall of 2019, he enrolled at the HCC Brandon Campus and is now graduating with his associate in arts degree in political science

 

Despite being a father, husband, business owner and full-time student, Jacob still found the time to get involved and make the best of his time as an HCC Hawk. 

 

At the Brandon Campus, he serves as the vice president for the Student Government Association (SGA), former president of the Student Veteran Organization (SVO) and assistant coordinator for the Florida College System Student Government Association (FCSSGA), Region 2. 

 

As an adult learner and student veteran, Jacob says his fear of going back to school wasn’t as bad as he had imagined. 

 

“The campus president at the time, Dr. Anzalone, was incredibly veteran-friendly and helped introduce me to the various resources available to me. The positive atmosphere played a huge role, and eventually I found myself spearheading the SVO at the Brandon Campus with the help of a new group of friends who also happened to be student vets.” 

 

Unfortunately, with the effects of COVID-19 on campus operations, resources like the Student Veterans Lounge, a safe space for students to relax in between classes, have been closed for the past year. 

 

“Reopening public student areas like the lounge would be a huge benefit to the veteran community. As former president of the SVO, I’ve seen firsthand the duress of some of our students and even know a few who have had to check themselves into mental health facilities. 

 

I’m in a position where I can have conversations with College leadership like President Atwater and talk about how we can begin to reopen these areas in a safe way given the times we are in. It makes all the difference to give veterans a place to wind down and come together.” 

 

One of Jacob’s goals in the future is to run for public office, which he accounts as one of the many reasons he chose to become so involved on campus. 

 

“My involvements have given me the opportunity to network outside of HCC with our state officials and elected representatives. Regardless of political views, those connections have made a major difference in my own career. I’m grateful for those conversations with likeminded people who just want to make a difference in their community.” 

 

“My passion is and always will be veteran affairs. I never had any intention of joining SGA; I first got involved as the club representative for the SVO. 

 

One of my goals at HCC was to help our veterans integrate into the student population and civilian life. In the past, I’ve helped the SVO partner with PTK (Phi Theta Kappa) and have those honors students come and tutor our student vets in classes where they might be struggling. Vice versa, if we’ve ever had SVO-sponsored events like a barbeque, we made sure to invite those clubs that have shown us their support to maintain the sense of community.

 

From there I began to see a need for strong voices in SGA. I wanted students to really get involved and start asking real questions. I wanted to be a voice of reason and affirm students we didn't always have to vote yes on every request that came through the SGA.”

 

When asked how he has been able to stay committed to his education despite his many roles outside of being a student, Jacob admits, “It’s been a process and definitely not for the weak. Pursuing an education in a COVID world hasn't been easy, and we’ve all had to grind. 

 

I can’t afford to not finish my degree. Without it, I can’t pursue my future dreams. I have to set myself as an example for my kids and teach them that bad things happen, but no matter how hard it gets, you have to push through.” 

 

With his graduation from HCC on the horizon, Jacob is keeping his options open, but definitely has plans to continue his education in political science. 

 

Looking towards the future, he plans to apply to the University of South Florida. 

 

In the meantime, Jam Enforcement Group LLC is his newest business venture. Started with a group of HCC peers, the company will serve as a security agency that will work to give displaced veterans work opportunities as security guards at special events. 

 

Jacob thanks HCC Student Activity Coordinator Ryan Brown and staff assistant Quawn Carter, as well as FCSSGA Region 2 Coordinator and Advisor, Tiffany Albritton and Anjum Perfetti, respectfully, as major influences to his success as a student. 

 

“Without them and without programs like SGA, SVO and FCSSGA, there’s a huge possibility I would have taken time off one of these past semesters because of COVID. Being involved made all the difference for me.” 

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