Alumni Spotlight

Caption: Alexander Carrasco found his niche while studying at the College of Education & Integrative Studies.

Veteran Finds Niche Working in the Trenches as Career Counselor    

Alexander Carrasco (’15, liberal studies) liked to tinker with engines while growing up in Pasadena and Glendora, and thought that was the path for him.   

He graduated from high school and joined the U.S. Navy to get training on some of the most powerful engines in the world: the turbofans that power military jet fighters.

To Carrasco, there wasn’t much difference between taking apart an eight-cylinder Chevy motor and the jet engine of an F-14 Tomcat supersonic fighter. He became an Aviation Machines Mate and spent a tour aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

Although he became an ace jet engine mechanic during his deployment, he began yearning for another path after military service: college.

Carrasco enrolled at Citrus College, and a world of options unfolded. He went on to Azusa Pacific University before transferring to Cal Poly Pomona, where the Veterans Resource Center would play a pivotal role in his academic career.

“The VRC provided me with guidance and assistance whenever I was met with a hurdle in my studies at Cal Poly Pomona,” he says. “The VRC is a great resource for any veteran and most of the hurdles you come across, a veteran has already faced them and the VRC will most likely have an answer to help get you back on track.”

Carrasco found his niche at the College of Education & Integrative Studies. There, he decided that he would become an advocate for veterans.

“My proudest moment at Cal Poly Pomona was walking across the stage at commencement,” he says. “Take my word, you have got to experience it to fully understand how proud you feel when your name is called and all your family and friends are there cheering you on.”

Carrasco is a business services representative with the Jewish Vocational Service of Los Angeles, a non-profit that helps veterans with career coaching, career training and job placement. He has a motto: “no matter the branch we are all brothers and sisters and that means we have to look out for one another.”

Carrasco has one piece of advice to those at Cal Poly Pomona staying up late to study.

“For the student veterans who are working toward graduation, keep at it. You will fall many times along the way but you have to get up, brush yourself off, and keep moving forward,” Carrasco says. “As student veterans you have chosen one of the most difficult things to accomplish. It won’t be easy, but I assure you it will be worth it when you finish.”

—China Pour