Returning to college wasn't easy for Chris Hust.
But now the long road to a degree is nearly over.
Hust, busy finishing up papers for his last semester, takes time to reflect on how far he's come.
After injuries sidelined him from working his old job, he started his life over again and expects to graduate from Montana State University Billings in December.
After high school, Hust attended college, but dropped out when he saw his friends making money. He now realizes that he wasn't ready for school.
Four years ago, when he was a driver for a food-distribution company, a loaded pallet fell on him, injuring him.
Even after long months of physical therapy, torn cartilage in his hip means that he can't walk long distances or lift anything heavy.
His right arm also hasn't fully recovered from being crushed in a car accident while he was in high school.
Although he was told he only would be able to return to work part-time for the rest of his working career, he wanted a full-time job to totally get off disability payments.
“I wanted my kids to be proud of me,” he said about his 8-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son.
Hust went to Lincoln Center to brush up on academic skills so he could go back to college.
Two and a half years ago, he enrolled in MSU Billings to study sociology and criminal justice.
After 17-credit semesters, summer classes, courses between fall and spring semesters, he will complete his degree.
It's been difficult at times to keep up the pace, but he's been grateful for the support that he's received, including from instructors at School District 2's adult education program.
Encouragement from the Student Opportunity Services at the Lincoln Center and at MSU Billings got him through tough times.
He's also grateful for the state's vocational rehabilitation program that paid for his education. MSU Billings' Disability Support Services enabled him to take essay tests on a computer because he can't write well with his injured arm.
Wonderful MSU Billings professors, such as Dan Lennon, Jeff Sanders and Doxey Hatch, were tough but opened his eyes and heart to new ideas.
Hust, 37, would love to be a parole officer, but, because the state isn't hiring for that position now, he's applying for other jobs.
Contact Mary Pickett at 657-1262 or email@example.com.