Success in the Making: Justin Dearick

Justin Dearick is a TCC graduate, and a student all rolled up in one. He recently graduated from TCC with an Associate of Arts degree, and now, is pursuing an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing. In addition, Justin is a veteran, having served in the U.S. Marine Corps.

He originally came to TCC intending to complete the EMT program, but life got in the way, and he didn’t get to enroll in the program. Taking the advice of the program director, Justin took an AP1 (Anatomy and Physiology). Although the class was difficult, he made a “very high A” and became interested in Nursing. “I began taking the rest of my prerequisites, completely stepping away from my career as a welder/mechanic,” he said.

Challenges Justin faced as a student included managing the demands of being a single father of two children, who were 7 and 10 when he began his educational journey. “Fitting my school and work schedule around their needs was EXTREMELY difficult,” he confessed. “Babysitters/daycares cost more than the rent on my house and favors from family and friends are always shorter lived than expected.”

Justin admits it was a real balancing act to make time for both his studies and his children. “Once we were home, balancing the unending study time I needed with the infinite needs of raising two children created some struggles that we grew through as a family,” he said. “They both have grown up very quickly and continue to navigate this journey with me.”

Another challenge for Justin with school is veteran benefits. “Navigating veteran benefits can be very difficult and inconsistent, to say the least. From the amount of income, to how I make my money, to schedules,” he said. “Being able to remain fluid and flexible to changes is essential.  That is probably the hardest lesson I have learned. There is no one answer that will continuously work for every obstacle college presents. You have to be able to use the tools in your arsenal in ways that fit the current problem you are facing, not necessarily how you used them before.”

Justin says his military career is very impactful to his educational journey. While in the military, he was a crew chief on a heavy lift helicopter. “My responsibilities varied from cargo loading, and crew management, to manning the door/tail gun and providing support for troops on the ground via firepower or insertion/extraction, along with medical attention, if needed, until we were able to return home.”

Justin’s transition back to life as a civilian after his military service proved difficult. “Going from that intense of a job to being a forklift mechanic was an adjustment. I was there for almost four years and held many different dead-end jobs during the decade I had been out of the Marine Corps,” he said. Some jobs paid well, while others did not, but the thing they had in common was none of them satisfied Justin. That dissatisfaction is what led him to TCC. “It led me to attempt the EMT program and the possibility of becoming a flight nurse and returning to a helicopter.”

When asked what he considers his greatest accomplishment so far, Justin is quick to say, “Just being where I am is a huge accomplishment for me.” He admits to facing several challenges after leaving the military. “I had personal problems that led my life downhill quickly. Divorce, homelessness, poor social decisions, and dealing with post-military separation put me in a position that is very difficult to return from, and many people never do.”

Thankfully, life turned around for Justin. “Having full custody of my kids, a three-bedroom house, owning my own car and motorcycle, being an Anatomy and Physiology tutor, completing my Associate of Arts with a 3.9 GPA, and being accepted into (TCC’s Nursing Program) is the highest mountain I have climbed thus far, and I’m not even at the top yet!”

While he studies Nursing at TCC, Justin plans to work on his bachelor’s degree at Tarleton concurrently. He is focused on his future. “After I receive my bachelor’s degree, I initially will be working as a trauma nurse.” He is already networking at JPS. He plans to do crossover training and become a paramedic immediately after receiving employment. “Then, I will build my experience in trauma/ICU/ER nursing as well as prehospital care as a paramedic until I have enough experience to become a flight nurse/paramedic.”

Once he attains this goal and his children are on their own, Justin is open to relocating and using his skills in multiple locations around the world. No doubt, the view will be incredible from the mountaintop, Justin!


The Success in the Making series celebrates current TCC students who have overcome challenges in their lives to reach for their success with TCC’s help. If you have a story to share, please contact