Daniel Hinojosa, Jr in a graduation gown posing in front of the SBVC VRC

Daniel Hinojosa, Jr. never gave up — and now, he has the diploma to prove it. The Fontana resident is graduating with honors from SBVC, earning his associate's degree in accounting and business administration, and is headed to California State University, San Bernardino, for his bachelor's degree. He was inspired to enroll at SBVC by his stepdaughter, who studied to become a pharmacy technician. "Seeing her excel in college motivated me to strive for a better future and pursue a degree myself," Hinojosa said.

In 2002, Hinojosa joined the U.S. Army and during his service, deployed to Iraq three times. He medically retired in 2011 and found that the transition from military to civilian life was challenging. Over the span of two-and-a-half years, both of his parents died and his youngest daughter was born prematurely at 25 weeks. He struggled to deal with these events without the structure the Army gave him, and his life was "marked by homelessness, anger, drug use, and no sense of direction," Hinojosa said. "I had no real purpose."

That changed when he met his fiancée, Liz. She was a positive force, standing by his side through good times and bad. "I owe a great deal of my ongoing success to her love and support," he said. "She helped me gain a clear vision of how life should be and has helped me become a better father to my wonderful daughter, Riley."

Hinojosa is a student worker at the Veterans Resource Center and wants his fellow vets and older students to know they can find success through higher education. "It is never too late to go back to school, no matter who you are,"he said. "It is never too late to follow your dream.