Veteran Balances Family, Career, and Online Studies

In 2000, Stephen Mercado retired from active service in the military. He had served for 20 years as a jet engine mechanic for aircrafts such as E2 Turbo prop Hawkeye, P-3, and EA6b Prowler and completed a tour as an instructor for the fleet pipeline teaching about power plants and related systems. Upon retirement from the service, he hoped to pursue his dream of a career in Human Services but with full-time job and two daughters in college, Mercado had doubts about finding a program that would work for him. Then he discovered Hope International University’s (HIU) online programs. He is now working toward a B.S. in Human Services with an emphasis in counseling as a part of Hope’s College of Psychology and Counseling.

“I am so blessed that I am a part of the body of Christ being equipped and trained by HIU to be used for His service and to be servant for mankind,” he said. The convenient nature of Hope’s online programs allow working professionals to continue their education and advance their careers, while at the same time keeping up with their everyday obligations. When he was searching for a program to fit his busy schedule, Mercado was struck not only by Hope’s flexibility but by the Christian principles that were emphasized. “I chose HIU because it is a Christ centered, Bible-based school and it exemplifies Christ as the true servant leader,” he said. Mercado went on to note that the professors are “experts in their field, but also principled Christians” and the University is very supportive of working professional veterans.

In fact, with both on campus and online education opportunities available, HIU is listed as a Military Friendly School on, which puts out an annual list of the top 15% of schools nationwide that offer services for both active service members and veterans. Benefits for military members include tuition discounts, and HIU accepts the Yellow Ribbon Program and GI Bill. In addition, Hope is a member of Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) and the Service members Opportunity Colleges Consortium (SOC).

Mercado says that veterans returning from the stressful life of service will find a place of peace and restoration at HIU. Citing Hosea 4:6, which states that people are destroyed from lack of knowledge, Mercado sees the combination of his military experience and his education at HIU as the tools he needs to become a stronger member of society. He believes he adds a unique dynamic to the classroom because the military exposed him to cultures, personalities, and skills different from his own. He has taken the discipline, resiliency, and adaptability he learned while in the service and used it to excel as a student.

“My heart’s desire is to impact my community for Christ and to make a difference in people’s lives,” he said. “I believe HIU has all the resources to equip me to be an effective servant leader and to advance God’s kingdom through servitude.”

Click here learn more about HIU’s military programs.

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