Alumni Profile: Colin Hughes
Name: 2/Lt Colin Hughes, U.S. Army
AFA Graduating Class: 2012
Higher Education & Honors: Virginia Military Institute, Distinguished Military Graduate; B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Distinguished Graduate, concentration in Mathematics and Aerospace Engineering.
Career/Next Steps: U. S. Army officer; graduated from Sapper Leader’s Course and now leads a Sapper Platoon at Fort Carson, CO.
Future Dreams: Special Forces Officer; freelance voice acting.
Colin, following in his father’s footsteps, has had his eye on a military career since graduating from AFA. Since then he has distinguished himself at VMI and is now an officer in the Army with challenging training and interesting travel already under his belt. As if that isn’t enough, he loves rock climbing and hiking, reading military histories, and is learning some culinary arts and hopes to learn to snowboard.
Colin is also part of an Officers Christian Fellowship Bible study and affirms that mentors and a small group community at different times have been critical for maintaining and growing his faith while at VMI and in the Army. He says that “I’ve been fortunate enough to have a very close relationship with my father; he has been the most influential and guiding force in my life aside from the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. . . . [but] I would not have made it through VMI without my circle of Godly men helping me through.“
Looking back on his time at AFA he cites his experience with mock trial “and going through the rigors of rhetoric and thesis writing [which] definitely helped produce a high level of focus when it was needed . . . . and a keen eye for details and persnickety-ness.” But he thinks his most valuable take away was to “always seek the truth and always do your own research. . . . going to the source to form your own opinions and arguments.”
One key thing that helped him to grow as a servant leader was being paired with a “Rat” (VMI freshman) when he was a senior as his mentor, helping him to navigate the severe stresses and challenges. This relationship continues to this day to help prepare this young man for a career as an officer in the Navy and share together what God has been teaching them or doing in their lives.
When asked what wisdom he’s pass on to those coming behind him at AFA he says first learn you cannot succeed alone. “Without Christ, the joys are dulled and the agony is everlasting. There is simply no genuine joy without Christ and knowledge of Him. . . . Knowing that Christ has a better plan and will be with you through every trial and struggle makes the stinging sea foam easier to press through.” From experience, he says a circle of close friends is also essential: “Who you associate with is who you become.” Beyond that foundation, Colin says he has found that diligent work must overcome the temporary escape of apathy and impulse. “Real, lasting progress does not come overnight, nor does it come from a ‘refreshed’ passion, it comes from the long hard hours of consistent struggle. And it must be consistent.” For him that applied both to his spiritual and academic life and now to his vocation. He found that college brought more choices and that you can either “live up the college life—party, drink, and explore all the world has to offer—or you can knuckle down, pursue a difficult goal, and exchange the short term fun for the long term joy.” Not to necessarily be a grind, but to “be purposeful with your time to relax and enjoy friendships and God’s creation.” His final lesson came from some struggles during his freshman year at VMI. He advises “not to allow yourself to be what others think you should be.” Colin, looking back, says of that time, “I locked up my enthusiasm, I tried to tirelessly work on my studies with no room for games. . . . It took long effort from my friends to break me out of my shell and for me to realize I choose who I want to be, not everyone else. And I choose to be whom God says I am—a forgiven adopted son of the living God.”