For Chris Sarracino, success in college required two key ingredients: maturity and fatherhood.
The New York native graduated from high school in Connecticut in 2004 and immediately went to college, but found himself overwhelmed and lacking direction.
“I was a great student in high school but about a year into college I realized that it just wasn’t for me at the time,” says Chris. He stepped away from college and kept his job at the print and design shop where he’d been working full time while in school.
Becoming a Father, Enlisting in the Army
In 2007, Chris had a son, inspiring him to make some quick decisions about how to get his life on track. “I had thought about the military before, but once he was born, I just woke up and said, ‘This is something I should do, to benefit myself and him,’” Chris remembers. By 2009, he was enlisted in the US Army. For the time being, college was on the back burner.
Chris started out as a combat engineer and was stationed around the country, as well as in Germany. He returned to the US in 2011 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. In 2012, Chris married and had a second son. Eventually, he ended up being stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, where he worked as a helicopter mechanic.
Civilian Life—and College
Chris moved back to Connecticut for a while to be closer to one of his sons and other family members. But in 2017 he returned to Colorado after leaving the military and the National Guard. The timing seemed right to go back to school. Front Range Community College was close to his house in Westminster, and Chris decided to check it out.
“I remember going to campus and everyone I spoke to was really helpful,” he says. “I grew up in New York and moved to Connecticut in high school, and I’d served all over in the military for nine years. I had a different background than many of the students who attend FRCC and have lived in the area for a long time. I was 35 years old and a dad of two children when I started. So, for me, that support was especially appreciated. It helped me get started.”
Life at FRCC
Chris began his FRCC education and immediately got involved with TRIO, a program that helps Americans with limited-income to enter college and better their economic lives. In fall 2018, he started working as a student affairs specialist at the FRCC Welcome Center—first as a work-study student, then as a part-time employee.
Today, he is a lead student affairs specialist for the college. Chris also remarried and had a third child, a daughter, in 2019. His wife is an FRCC student, too—studying early childhood education while working full-time for an online home furnishings company.
People at FRCC have helped Chris along his journey—and now he likes helping others find the resources they need. He has received two certificates of achievement for his role in student affairs at the college. “I enjoy everything about my job,” he says. “We direct students wherever they need to go for help, whether that’s financial aid, advising, the testing center or something else. I like being able to help students like people helped me when I first came in. There is an abundance of support for students at FRCC.”
A great example of that support is the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program, which helps cover monthly child care costs for Chris’s daughter, who is now two years old. “That’s been such a huge help for us as a family,” says Chris.
On to MSU-Denver
Chris graduated from FRCC with his associate degree in the spring of 2020 and is now starting work on a bachelor’s degree in sports management at Metropolitan State University of Denver. A longtime lacrosse player, he’s also minoring in human performance and sport.
When he graduates in 2023, Chris hopes to run his own adult lacrosse league. He and a friend are starting a new men’s league: Colorado Premier Lacrosse.
Chris says FRCC has been the best stepping stone. “I feel like everyone there helped me learn to walk before I learned to run,” he adds. “Whether you need a little support or a lot, there’s always someone who will help connect you to the resources you need to be successful at FRCC.”