Grads Evaluate Effect of AC Work/Study Program on Their Careers
How well has the work-study program at Herbert W. Armstrong College lived up to its name?

Herbert W. Armstrong College’s work-study program began even before the first day of classes in 2001. It is known as a program for manpowering the Work, graduating debt-free, and teaching young people to be successful in business. Now that about 180 young people have passed through the program, how has it stacked up against that third metric?

BRIAN YOUNG: “Today I am a consultant, an analyst and a sales rep. I get to travel the country a fair bit, interacting with a lot of business owners. … [J]ust the opportunity to ‘settle’ and mature in that positive, productive, wholesome, godly environment on God’s land­—it really built my confidence and sense of who I am and what I’m part of. Looking back, what a gift that time was to be there and working. Previous to that I had ‘interned’ at HQ in Publishing and been assistant director of pyc in ’99 during my summers back from the Jordan project, which was about all the Church had to offer at that time in terms of educational-type activites for the young people. Working inside at HQ instilled in me the awareness of the pace and quality God wants us to work at. To this day I am driven by the standard that put in my mind of what God expects from an employee. It’s not enough to be at the office. I have to be honestly working and producing and creating value. That’s a priceless gift and essential attribute to a successful life. So taken all together in those early years, the work-study program shaped and influenced what I am at a foundational level. … [T]he biggest benefit to my professional career from AC in terms of skills was received in the speech leadership class Mr. Joel Hilliker taught and Spokesman Club. From Landscaping, the leadership position over five other students built a lot of confidence and interpersonal skills that I use today interacting with a fairly close working team at the smaller company I work for. I can’t say the position I held on Landscaping did anything to get me into the company I’m at today, but having the position as assistant managing editor on the student newspaper did. Between that and writing regularly for the Philly News, and my communications degree from uco, that’s what got me looked at and considered for the job that got me into the company I’m in today. I was hired to be a content manager. Writing for the Church was the ‘real life’ experience I needed to go with my degree. Then I was able to grow into the marketing manager and now a development consultant using a lot of the skills I learned at AC and HQ.”

DAVID BLONDEAU (’08): “I always had a passion for design, so when I took the graphic design class taught by Mike Dattolo in my sophomore year, that made me realize that I should pursue a career that enables me to develop that talent, so it was mainly that class that helped me decide to become a graphic designer. After AC, I pursued online training to specialize in this field, choosing to enroll with a design school based out of New York, one of the key design hubs in America. By God’s miraculous hand, I was able to enroll myself in the advanced classes and skip the preceding beginner and intermediate classes. How? Because when I showed them the design projects I had done at AC (which obviously is not a design school) they said the level of training I received to do those was so high that it merited me to take their advanced-level courses from the start. Amazing! That saved me several thousand dollars. This would not have happened had I not attended AC and taken that class. The wage I receive at my present job is usually what someone with a university degree makes—someone who is probably thousands of dollars in debt paying off their student loans to get that degree. Because of the unique student work program at AC, I graduated debt-free and actually have savings. I have no problem getting time off for the holy days, and even have been able to take paid leave to work at pyc twice—and my boss counts it in my work record as community service! The only reason I got this job is because of my previous work experience at the Key of David call center while I was at AC. I would not have this good-paying job with excellent benefits had I not attended AC.”

JASON COCOMISE (’06): “I worked in Landscaping, Mail Processing, the kitchen, AC athletics and the business office. After working in these various diverse departments, it cemented in my mind the fact that I wanted to have a job working with people. As I was nearing the end of my AC career, I was considering work options in the hospitality/restaurant management field. I was unexpectedly hired at HQ before graduation, and that morphed into working in the festival department, where I now manage the department under Mr. Locher. It is a dream job, as I am constantly working with pcg members, the ministry and a host of vendors in the hospitality industry. Teaching at IA has also been extremely beneficial throughout this time. It is hard to believe that it has already been eight-plus years here working full time for God’s great Work! There is truly nowhere else that I’d rather be. The student work program gave me opportunities, experiences and training in a multitude of different work environments. The diversity makes it so unique.”

ANDREW MIILLER (’09): “During my four years in the student work program, I worked in the kitchen, on the custodial crew and in the Church’s news bureau. My time in the news bureau proved especially beneficial in honing my public speaking ability, my writing skills and my creativity. All three of these skills have been invaluable in my current career as a research chemist. All my past managers have praised me for my writing skills and for my ability to clearly explain technical details in layman’s terms. I sincerely attribute most of my career successes to the work ethic, communication skills and personality traits I learned at AC. It is true that in my particular field I needed some additional scientific training, but my current employer passed over three job candidates with graduate degrees to hire me because of those AC traits.”

DANIEL ARNFIELD (’14): “When I came to AC, I was given the opportunity to program at the mpc part time. Programming had been an off-and-on hobby of mine for years, but I was still vastly under-qualified for this job. I spent my first year mostly learning how to do the work, becoming somewhat competent but still very inexperienced. In my sophomore year, I was moved to the Hall of Ad and began working under Mr. [Patrick] Hogan. He gave me new tools and a project and set me on the path to becoming a real web developer. For the next three years, I was thrown in the deep end: I was given real projects that would be used by a lot of people (, and whatever I didn’t know how to do (i.e. everything) I had to learn as I went. Today, I look back on that experience and realize how much better this path was than going to school for a computer science degree would have been. At the end of four years in the world, it’s true that I would have had a much more thorough education in software design, but I would have had no job experience and thus no guarantee of getting a job in that field. Instead, I now have four years’ experience writing software that has had to stand up to the rigors of real use. I’ve had to learn how to deal with deadlines, emergencies, clients, changing requirements, and many other real-world situations that simply can’t be taught in a classroom. My job today is everything I could ever have hoped for. I thought that I was giving up pursuing programming when I applied to AC, but instead it became my career in a way that is so much more meaningful than if I had learned it and found a job in the world. I now have a portfolio that, while far from complete or perfect, is years ahead of what I would have if I had stayed in worldly education. Some of it, such as, simply could not have happened at all—a site of that size and scope would normally have a whole team behind it, not one college student. God has provided me with more opportunities than I could have ever imagined through AC, and I am extremely grateful for all of them.”

EDWIN TREBELS (’07): “If I had not been accepted to AC, I probably would have had a career in sports management in the Netherlands or perhaps ended up in sales like both my siblings. I would not have lived in the U.S.A. for three years, would not have lived in Israel for 1½ years, would not have lived in the United Kingdom for four years (working at the UK office) and most likely would not have had my American wife and two children supporting God’s Work at HQ. AC’s education was unequivocally a better education than my other college years in the Netherlands. In fact, AC forced me to have to unlearn many bad study habits in order to succeed. AC assisted in developing a well-rounded personality through classes and extra-curricular activities, including dating. The extended public speaking training at AC is unmatched by anything I’ve ever witnessed. Without speech classes and Spokesman Clubs, I would never have been able to come up with a sensible word to speak to the dozens of ambassadors and diplomats I met in Israel and the UK in God’s Work. I would never have had a formal dinner at the Knesset with the president and most of Israel’s leaders present. I know it takes faith to come here. When you do have that faith in you, God will lead you to places in God’s Family and Work you never would have dreamed of before. He’ll give you opportunities and blessings you would normally never receive. Today, I live at HQ with my wife, two children, two cats and a fish in a beautiful home which I would call a luxury villa in the Netherlands. We are debt-free and have every spiritual and physical desire of our heart. We are allowed to work at HQ and support God’s Work in special ways. Tomorrow, we may live in a different location, but wherever we go, we will always have been educated by God. I hope and pray we will always work hard to stay true and loyal to that investment and serve and sacrifice to those who need it in support of God’s appointed apostle, Work and Family.”

DAVID HOWARD (’07): “My first year I worked on Landscaping, and my second to fourth years I worked in the maintenance department. … I learned so much working on maintenance. I’ve saved probably thousands of dollars since college, as I’m now able to use the skills I learned at college in the work program. For example, my car broke down a couple of months ago and I was able to fix it myself, saving around $2,000. … It’s really paying huge dividends. I also use the skills in my current job. We put up a stud wall with a door and window to split one office into two. The job would probably have cost thousands, and we were able to do it at cost, so it also saved the Church money. Before college, I worked at several jobs while I was attending school and college in the UK. There is no comparison between working with those in the world and other students and faculty at college. It’s just totally different. People’s attitudes in the world are so selfish, whereas at college we all had the same goals—essentially to support the Work as best we can. The work ethic and ethics in general are totally different in a worldly environment compared to the hwac environment. To get a similar job I have now without having the hwac experience, I would have probably had to attend a worldly university with their upside-down morals and ethics. Not only would it have probably been quite a worldly experience, I would also have graduated with a huge debt. With the hwac work program, I was able to pay off my tuition months before graduation and finished college with some savings. I’m so glad I was able to experience the hwac work program. Not only did it give me great skills that I’ll be using for the rest of my life, I was able to work with converted colleagues and developed a proper work ethic. I feel deeply honored to have worked beside the people I did and know that our strong friendship and relationships will last for eternity!”