Eleven years after joining the United States Navy, Josh Delano found himself worrying about the impact his frequent absences would have on his kids, who were seven and eight at the time. So, he left active military service so he could spend more time with them, and having an affinity for computers and electronics, embarked on a journey to become an electrical engineer.
“Being in the military was a lot of fun,” he said. “I got to see a lot of fun places. I learned how to be an adult. I got to do lots of cool things that most people can’t even imagine. I chose electrical engineering because I feel like there are a lot of problems in the world, and I wanted to find a path that would help me head towards a solution. And one of the problems in the world is pollution. So, it was my dream to go into clean energy. And I figured as an electrical engineer, I would one day have the tools to really be able to be a guiding force in that.”
To achieve his new dream, Josh enrolled at California State University, Fresno in 2012. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the veteran whose life felt vastly different from most of his younger classmates’.
“There were challenges with being an older student,” he said. “It was hard to connect with the general population because where I was at in life was, I’m starting afresh, all the people around me were starting afresh, but I’d already been halfway around the world several times. And a lot of my peers that I was going to school with had almost nothing in common with me.”
Money was also tight despite financial assistance through the GI Bill, which helps veterans pay for college, so Josh had to take out additional loans to support his education. Sticking close to the veteran community at CSU Fresno, however, helped as he adjusted to civilian and school life. He got a job working with Student Support Services, Veterans—a student retention program—through a federal work study program though the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was there, in 2016, that Josh first heard about Internet Essentials, Comcast’s signature broadband adoption program for low-income households, which had just expanded its eligibility to include low-income veterans.
“So, when I was in college, having the Internet at home was not the most necessary thing, but if I didn’t have Internet in the house, I would have to be at the college all the time,” he said. “Because all the coursework, every communication, it was all through the Internet. I was seeing emails about all kinds of programs, and this Internet Essentials program seemed like a very beneficial program to look into. I reached out and the signup process was easy; a few phone calls, because it was new. And it was something that I could tell other veterans about to lighten their burden, because there’s a lot of financial burden when it comes to going to school. Being able to get other veterans on board with the Internet Essentials program was kind of my mission at the time. Well, being able to get veterans on board with any assistance was kind of my mission at the time. I’ve been a longtime advocate for the Comcast Internet Essentials program. It’s been good to me, and I’ve got friends that signed up for it, and they’ve got friends that have signed up for it. And it’s been a growing force in the veteran community locally.”
Getting a home Internet connection through Internet Essentials allowed Josh to spend time he would have spent commuting back and forth, at home and with his children. He also credits his home Internet connection for his healthy lifestyle while in school, allowing him to have the time to cook and eat at home.
In 2018, Josh’s hard work paid off and he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering. He found work soon after graduation and currently creates design work for electrical construction for a power company, with hopes to move on to the clean energy sector when the time is right.
“To me, being a veteran means that a person is very selfless, and they’ve chosen duty and sacrifice over the basic freedoms that most of us enjoy. I joined the military out of lack of opportunity. [There was] just not a lot in my hometown in the way of, you know, skilled labor and things like that. So, joining the military, I was able to get a skill and I was able to see the world.
“One of my proudest moments was graduating college,” he said. “No one in my family ever went to college, and I got to set an example for my kids to follow. And me being a veteran will allow them to go to college for free.”