Freddie Hornedo, C’14, earned a bachelor’s degree in IT management with a minor in business through SPCS. As a December 2014 graduate, he celebrated his graduation during SPCS Night and Commencement 2015. At SPCS Night, Hordedo received the McDonald Davis Jr. Book Award for Excellence in Information Technology Management and was named the student Commencement speaker, a selection made in part by his fellow students.

Hornedo works as an Information Technology Specialist for the U.S. Department of Justice. He started his degree in Fall 2011, but as he shares below, that was hardly the first time he started on a degree. He and his wife recently started a small business. Hornedo Business Consulting, which helps small to medium sized business owners and entrepreneurs who want to grow their companies, but who struggle to bring quality leads into their business consistently. They work with clients to identify online and offline tools and tactics that are most appropriate and fruitful for marketing their business.

Hornedo took a few minutes to offer his reflections on his educational journey, on his experience at Richmond, and on advice he’d offer others considering a similar journey.

What was your educational journey before arriving at SPCS?

I started college right out of high school in 1991 while living in San Diego. I only completed one semester before enlisting in the Air Force. I then went to school part-time while I was in the Air Force. I continued part-time for a little while after leaving the military, but then I took a ten-year hiatus. During that time I received my Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification.

Why did you decide to return to school?

I decided that I wanted to complete my degree, partly to open doors of opportunity, but mostly to be an example to my children. I had to finish what I started, especially if I had similar expectations of them.

Why did you choose SPCS and the University of Richmond?

I started going back to school while living in the Baltimore area, and then I received a job offer in the Richmond area. I began to do internet searches for Information Systems/Technology continuing education programs in Richmond. I considered several other institutions, but none of them had what the SPCS was offering. First of all, the University of Richmond is a world class institution with a stellar reputation for academic excellence. Additionally, the coursework being offered by the IT program was more relevant and applicable to my career than the other colleges I looked at. I also liked that it would be mostly in a classroom environment versus completely online. This gave me access to the professors, which was fantastic. Another very important thing to me was to develop relationships with my classmates. The SPCS fosters an environment of collaboration and camaraderie that truly helps you build those relationships and gives you a slice of what the day-school [Schools of Arts & Science, Business and Jepson] students get to experience.

Has earning your degree resulted in any promotions or other workplace advancement?

About a week after my degree was completed in December a significant promotion opportunity came up that required a bachelor’s degree in order to apply. I applied for the opportunity and have made it to the final stage of the promotion process. I’ll find out whether I get the promotion in about two weeks. I’m definitely praying that I get it. Without this degree, I would never have even been able to apply. It came just in time!

What were the greatest challenges of returning to school as an adult student?

Balancing my educational responsibilities with family life, work and business. It was especially difficult to lock myself in my room for hours on end doing homework, projects and studying at the expense of family time, but they were very supportive and understanding in helping me reach my goal.

What will you miss most about being a Richmond student?

Without question, I’ll miss the people. The faculty and staff was well as my classmates made my time at the University of Richmond a wonderfully pleasant experience.

What one piece of advice would you give colleagues considering a return to school?

Don’t be intimidated by the process. Even if you choose to only take one class at a time, keep moving toward your goal. Whether you do it for professional reasons or personal reasons or both, it’s well worth the journey.