Monroe veteran encourages other vets to use GI Bill benefits

By Rob Prosch

After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Shane Johnson wanted to get a job, earn a college degree and live close to his family.

He was ecstatic to discover he could do all three in east Snohomish County.-á

Johnson, 27, a Sultan High School graduate, and his wife, Kristi, a Monroe native, moved to Monroe after the staff sergeant was honorably discharged in 2013.-á

Within a week of arriving home, he got a job at Monroe's Thrive Community Fitness (118 N. Lewis St. No. 104). The following week, he enrolled at Everett Community College's (EvCC) East County Campus in Monroe (14090 Fryelands Blvd. No. 373) to earn his business transfer degree.

-á"College is one of the most important things an individual can accomplish in life,GÇ¥ Johnson said. "It provides the tools necessary to succeed and overcome challenges. I'm not sure I would have attended college if not for the convenience and accessibility of the East County Campus.GÇ¥

Johnson used his GI Bill benefits to pay for his education ' a key reason why he enlisted in the military after high school. He encourages other veterans, especially those struggling to find work, to go to college, too.

"Opportunities exist. Use your GI Bill to fulfill your educational needs. Get a degree. You won't regret it,GÇ¥ he said.

During his time in the military, Johnson said he gained leadership experience, attention to detail and the ability to handle stressful situations. He believes that leading by example is one of his best qualities as a manager and tries to emulate former flight chief Marcus Williams, who was a role model for "Do as I do, not as I say.GÇ¥-á

Those skills also help Johnson in the classroom. Accountability to completing assigned tasks in a timely manner, paying attention to the large and small details and teamwork are among the skills he transferred into the classroom. Seth Peterson, a program specialist with the EvCC Veterans Resource Center, was a vital contact to ensuring full usage of Johnson's GI Bill.-á

Johnson put his education at EvCC's East County Campus to work immediately. After just three months on the job at Thrive ' and only one quarter of college ' Johnson was promoted from a personal trainer to manager. He now oversees the day-to-day operations, human resources, inventory, budget for specific expenditures and ensures a smooth-running business.

Owner Rorry Dunbar has credited Johnson with bringing a different perspective on business to Thrive. He has improved internal communication and is responsible for ensuring employee adherence to company standards.-á

Johnson said his business education is a major reason for his promotion and his inspiration to strengthen Thrive. -á

His business management class provided a philosophical foundation for his supervision at Thrive, including implementing new and more effective ways to run a business and supervise employees. Johnson's willingness to look outside the box has had effects in the look of the fitness center, equipment maintenance, greater customer service and facility cleanliness.

His favorite courses have been with business instructor Lynne Munoz.-á

"Lynne's presentation style is upbeat and informative, building a foundation and framework and giving me the tools to put what I learned in the military into action in the civilian workplace,GÇ¥ he said. "She made the learning environment very comfortable and ensured teamwork was a priority in all of her classes. Everything I know about business, I learned in her classes.GÇ¥-á

Johnson expects to graduate with a degree in business administration. After that, he hopes-á to own his own fitness center and continue with his two other businesses: a clothing line and a web marketing and development company.

Though Johnson realizes that not all transitions from the military into civilian life are smooth, he encourages veterans to utilize the community and college resources available to assist in furthering educational and life opportunities. For him, it has been the formula for his success.

Rob Prosch is the director of Everett Community College East County Campus in Monroe.-á


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