KILLEEN, TX — A Temple veteran, who struggled in school, went off to push boundaries in his higher education.
Kino Hickey was working at the VA sterilizing medical equipment when he dreamed of a job where he could help people battling mental illnesses. But this plan would require him to pursue a degree.
Before working at the VA, 10 years ago, he was failing out of school and later dropped out. Now, he's older and chose to further his education. However, he knew that he would likely be in classrooms with much younger students.
He also has dyslexia, which would be an added challenge in the traditional classroom setting. It would be a tough road to fulfill his goals.
Hickey's wife inspired him to give education another try. He enrolled in Central Texas College where he doubled his former GPA with a 3.8. He continued his success at Texas A&M Central Texas before going on to get his master’s in social work from Baylor University.
“Through both social work programs, whether it’s here at A&M Central Texas or at Baylor University, you know they always teach us to be the voice for those who can't speak. And me being a veteran myself, and oftentimes, we as veterans don't like to speak up for ourselves. So I think I have a unique position to be able to advocate for veterans,” said Hickey.
He plans on seeking a job, possibly at the VA, to assist veterans with mental illness. In the future, he would like to pursue his doctorate.
"Kino's story comes from his own experience both as being a veteran and seeing veterans in need and also I think the other piece is realizing that he could do more through education,” said Professor Michael Daley, A&M Central Texas chair of the department of social work.