Brayden Hunt '21, a civil engineering major who graduates at the end of this semester, served in the U.S. Navy for four years prior to becoming a Tommie. His specialty was person overboard lifeboat and rescue system operations during his time in the military. At St. Thomas, Hunt is one of the growing number of veterans, and he volunteers as the vice president of the Veterans Association.
Moving from his home of Michigan, Hunt relocated to the Twin Cities with his wife and has been growing his roots here ever since. Along with being a full-time student, Hunt cares for his 3-year-old son and works remotely for a civil engineering firm based in Michigan, a position that will be a full-time one upon graduation.
Here are some highlights from our conversation.
Why did you choose St. Thomas?
Mostly because of the size and my personality. When I was looking at schools specifically for civil engineering, Deborah Besser, PE, PhD, director of the Center for Engineering Education, gave me a personal tour on a Saturday in the middle of the summer. That was pretty appealing.
How has the School of Engineering prepared you for success in the civil engineering field and for your career?
The classes are fairly in depth. I like the way that a lot of things taught here are from a realistic standpoint, not just theoretical. You also get a little bit more of that at St. Thomas having a smaller class size. We get more hands-on labs than a lot of other universities do.
What activities have you been involved in during your time at St. Thomas?
Family and my job doesn't leave me a lot of time for extracurriculars, but I've been involved in the Veterans Association. I'm the vice president. We have different activities where we all meet for dinner and things like that.
Tell me about your military service years, locations and responsibilities
I was on an aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson. I was stationed in San Diego but that ship deployed to the West Coast and the Gulf. I've been to quite a few countries.
I was a boatswain's mate. I did a lot of traditional things for the Navy like mooring and docking the ship, driving and other maintenance operations. I was personally in charge of the man overboard lifeboat and rescue systems. That was my specialty.
What made you enlist?
When I was a senior in high school, I didn't apply to college. I had a little bit of self-awareness that I knew I wouldn't be good at college at that point in my life. I didn't have a lot of direction, so I just looked for something where I could go be productive for four years, or for a while until I could figure it out. I ended up enlisting and I left pretty much a month and a half after high school graduation.
What advice do you have for people to support veterans in the wake of the Afghanistan withdrawal?
I think it's just to be aware that people are going to have very strong opinions on it. They're probably going to be more personal than what someone else's might be. They might have a much more personal investment in that issue so regardless of your own opinions, just try to be respectful.
What are your plans for after graduation?
So I have kind of started, but I am starting a new job for a structural and geotechnical engineering company. I'm going to focus on structural design, geotechnical engineering and other civil applications. The company is out of Michigan but I'm going to stay local in the Twin Cities.