MHS Graduate and Military Veteran Pursues Higher Education
Timothy Harrington, a 1999 graduate of Medfield High School, is now pursuing a degree in law enforcement and emergency medical technician training at MassBay.
With a father who served in Vietnam in the Army and a grandfather who also served in the Army in World War II, it was perhaps not surprising that Timothy Harrington enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 19 after graduating from Medfield High School in 1999.
Three deployments, an honorable discharge, and a reenlistment later, Harrington is back for his second tour at MassBay.
From 1999 to 2003, Harrington served as a heavy machine gunner, deployed twice (one non-combat, one combat tour in Iraq). Following an honorable discharge on Christmas Day 2003, Harrington enrolled at MassBay in spring 2004. He earned 46 credits toward his Associate Degree in Criminal Justice.
After leaving MassBay, Harrington moved to Virginia and enrolled in Old Dominion University. However, after only one semester, he left and was out of school for awhile.
“Too much partying,” he admits.
In 2008, he decided to re-enlist in the Marine Corps Reserves.
“I was missing direction in my life,” he said. “That was a good part about being a Marine, it gives you a very good focus.”
For one weekend a month and two weeks in the summertime, Harrington participated in drills, keeping his skills sharp.
In 2010, Harrington returned to school, enrolling at UMass-Boston. He had gotten a job as a personal trainer back in Medfield, so he went to UMB for their Exercise Health & Science program.
“I found that when I went back to school at UMass-Boston it was overwhelming,” says Harrington. “There were 200 students in some of my classes, and I really felt a little lost there.” He left after one semester.
Just six months later, on May 1, 2011, Harrington was deployed again, this time to Afghanistan where he served as a Section Leader in charge of 24 Marines and sailors.
Returning stateside on December 31, 2011, Harrington returned to MassBay and enrolled in the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program.
“I knew it would be cheaper than other options, it was an accredited college, and they would help get me prepared for the state exams,” he said.
“I kind of jumped into the EMT class though. I was in Afghanistan one month beforehand. I had a lot of tension on my shoulders. I think people probably thought I was not particularly friendly at that time,” he said with a chuckle.
“I was in one of the most dangerous places on Earth and then back running around in Medfield and Wellesley. But I knew how to handle it from being deployed at an early age.”
“MassBay has always been a comfortable environment for me,” he said. “Professors are always very approachable, the classroom environment is small, it’s a more intimate setting than other schools.”
Harrington intends to become a police officer after completing his education.
“I think my overall military background makes me want to be a police officer – my skills transfer pretty well,” he said. “I have the right mindset for it. Because of my experience in the Marines, I am good at de-escalating situations rather than escalating them.”
In addition to pursuing his Associate Degree in Criminal Justice, Harrington is taking the EMT certification exam as a means to be more competitive.
“Since police officers are first responders, having EMT credentials would give me a leg up over other candidates. There are a lot of veterans who try to become police officers, so I’m competing against them too,” he said.
MassBay’s EMT program tests students’ skills in five competencies, and students pass the five tests to become eligible to take the certification exam. Harrington takes his certification exam in July, five days after his Criminal Justice classes begin.
“It’s going to be a busy summer,” he said.
As for his overall experience he says, “MassBay is a very veteran friendly place. All benefits transfer, and because it’s a state school my tuition and fees are entirely covered.”
He said, for “Someone like me, MassBay has helped my confidence level as I transition from service to school – I couldn’t have picked a more comfortable environment. Knowing people are around with similar experiences as me makes it a little bit easier.”
Harrington is a Reservist in the Marine Corps. After earning 46 credits toward his Associate Degree in Criminal Justice from 2004-5, he returned to MassBay in 2011 to finish his degree and to pursue an EMT Certificate. He intends to complete both by December 2011 and aspires to be a police officer.