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Guided by structure and self-discipline, recent Air Force vet thrives at CCRI

November 11, 2020

The grandson of two military veterans, Adam Fisher grew up in a household with the same structure and framework that has shaped many of his predecessors.

From his own time in the United States Air Force to his new life as a college student chasing an associate degree, structure remains an important part of Fisher’s everyday routine.

The 27-year-old Boise, Idaho native and current North Smithfield resident is finishing his third and final semester at the Community College of Rhode Island, where he will earn his business degree before transferring to Rhode Island College in January as part of the Joint Admissions Agreement program.

As an administrator for the National Guard, Fisher’s long-term goal is to become an Officer, which requires a bachelor’s degree prior to taking an aptitude test. Upon moving to his wife’s hometown in 2019, Fisher discovered CCRI was the logical choice for a variety of reasons, mostly because of the affordability, but also because the attention to detail – everything from advisors’ course recommendations to the one-on-one time with his professors – reminds him of life growing up in a firm, but fair, household.

“I’ve found that same structure here,” says Fisher, whose wife, Maria, recently gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Harlow.

“I love the community college experience. The professors here are amazing, and, more importantly, they’re honest with you, but always willing to provide help when you need it. I hadn’t been in a classroom in almost a decade, but they made the transition seamless for me.

“I’m very detail-oriented. I set my own schedule, and know when every assignment is due. Crossing things off for me is very satisfying, and CCRI has provided that structure.”

Fisher did not have as clear and concise a path as a teenager. A graduate of Bishop Kelly High School in Boise, he immediately went to work for his father – “my best friend,” he says, and the vice president of a major automobile dealership in Ada County. The two did everything together, and while Fisher’s father was his biggest cheerleader throughout high school as he rose to prominence as a three-sport athlete, he also maintained a strong sense of discipline within the household, which helped shape Fisher into the man he is today.

“He was strict, but in a good way,” Fisher said. “If I did something wrong, he would come up with creative punishments to teach my why it was wrong. I always respected him for that. Even in sports, he was my coach for everything, and he wouldn’t be afraid to tell me if I wasn’t performing up to my potential. That’s how I was raised.”

Fisher received several offers from small Division II and III schools to play college basketball, but always dreamt of playing Division I, so he admittedly lost focus on athletics by his junior year when he realized that wasn’t an option. Adamant about working for his father, he spent four years performing a variety of odd jobs at the dealership, mostly detailing cars, until, at age 22, he realized he wanted something more out of life.

“I had to look in the mirror,” he said. “I didn’t have a degree and all of my friends were about to graduate college. I didn’t have a path, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do what I was doing for the rest of my life.”

Following in his grandfathers’ footsteps, Fisher enlisted in 2016 and spent the next four years serving as an Air Force Personnel Specialist both in Okinawa, Japan at Kadena Air Base and Dover Air Base in Delaware.

Given Okinawa’s close proximity to North Korea, there were many “tense” moments, Fisher says, during his two years in Japan, but his service time ultimately reinforced his desire for structure and helped him carve a much clearer path for his future. He fondly recalls his time in Asia and how he applies many Japanese customs – namely the work ethic and code of honor – to his everyday life.

While in Delaware, Fisher also tied the knot, marrying his longtime girlfriend whom he had been in a long-term relationship with throughout his military service. The two eventually married in a small ceremony at a courthouse in Dover in 2018. The idea of life after the Air Force and the possibility of starting a family prompted Fisher to focus more on a long-term career within the military. His wife had previously attended CCRI and spoke highly of its flexibility, affordability, and wide range of programs, so he made the logical choice to enroll last fall.

Nothing – not even being forced to adapt to a remote learning format at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic – will deter Fisher from completing the first step on his path to securing a better future for his family.

“CCRI really helped me bear down and think about my future,” Fisher said. “Here, I’ve gotten grades I never got in high school, and I owe a lot of that to my professors and advisors who really allowed me to flourish. This has been an amazing journey.” 

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