CCC student adapts in challenging times


CCC student Justin Eaton, retired U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat captain, sits in his classroom at home to keep his sight set on achieving his educational goal.


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Coconino Community College student Justin Eaton would attend his classes in person, something he enjoyed very much.


Now, he walks the dog, makes his coffee, eats some breakfast and strolls into his home office to go to school.


“It was a little bit of adapting, but it wasn’t hard,” Eaton said. “I do miss being in the classroom.”


Not only has Eaton adapted to the new reality in education during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s continuing forward and even has registered for classes in the fall, which are now available.


Eaton is in his first year at CCC studying Business Management after having spent 27 years in the U.S. Coast Guard. He retired as a senior chief and spent 23 of his years in the Coast Guard on rescue boats and patrol ships.


During his many years in the Coast Guard, Eaton harbored a dream – he wanted the “culinary life.” His heart and passion have always lived with the food and hotel industry, and he wants to spend the last half of his professional career managing an existing restaurant, maybe even open a Bed and Breakfast in Flagstaff.



When he talked with friends about his dream, they suggested he get his feet wet in higher education at a community college because it had been so long since he had been in school. When he would drive across the country to new duty assignments, he often drove through Flagstaff. He liked the weather, and the city was big enough where it had everything he needed. He also liked being in the forest and the fresh air.


“I said this was going to be my retirement place,” Eaton said. “So, when I got done, I came here.”


Eaton added that he was nervous when he stepped into the classroom for the first time since high school. He’s glad he chose the community college route, because the faculty and staff were helpful in getting him back into the swing of education. As a CCC2NAU student, he said he believes he’s ready for the larger university experience now.


He’s going to school full-time with the help of the G.I. Bill. His retirement from the military makes it possible for him not to have to work, but he worked at a part-time job anyway, until the COVID-19 outbreak closed the business he worked for.


He appreciated the in-person classroom environment for the ability to feel connected and to have immediate access to faculty to ask questions, but he transitioned to the online environment with little trouble. His schedule before CCC President Colleen Smith made the decision to transition classes to online or alternate learning methods, included Tuesday and Thursday classes, with the other days set aside for homework and assignments. Now, he plugs away on his classes five days a week during the mornings. He completes papers or online assignments. He sits in on Zoom meetings, listens to video lectures for his English class. His Computer Information Systems class was already online.


It may take a bit longer to get the answers, and the classroom dynamic isn’t as prevalent, but, he added, on the bright side, “nothing is in a hurry anymore.” He enjoys the Zoom classes the most because they simulate a classroom experience a little bit.



He doesn’t want the COVID-19 outbreak to derail his plans to complete his studies at CCC and make the move to NAU. He already registered for fall classes at CCC.


“I’m ready to go,” Eaton said, adding that he sat down with his adviser, went through the classes he needs and signed up. “I know what I need to do here, so I want to get it knocked out before I move onto NAU.”


Eaton said he has been through disasters before, and he’s certain about one thing – they always end. The fact that restaurants and hotels have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t deter him in his goal of Business Management in the restaurant industry.


“It’s going to recover, and it’s still my passion and my dream,” Eaton said. “I still want to pursue it. It’ll take time, but things do recover.”


To register for Summer or Fall semester classes, visit:



Monday, 13th April 2020 12:00 AM

All Dates

  • Monday, 13th April 2020 12:00 AM