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Navy Veteran Electrifies His Life by Attending QCC

September, 2019
  • Anthony “Tony” Barnardo gets ready to head out to his first day of school.
    Anthony “Tony” Barnardo gets ready to head out to his first day of school.
  • Navy veteran Anthony “Tony” Barnardo shows his excitement on his first day of classes at QCC.
    Navy veteran Anthony “Tony” Barnardo shows his excitment on his first day of classes at QCC.

For Navy veteran Anthony “Tony” Barnardo, of Webster, a dream of owning his own food truck or restaurant was just that - a dream, until he became a student at QCC. This fall Mr. Barnardo is starting his third semester at the college as a hospitality major with the goal of owning his own food truck. He has already seen first-hand what it’s like to run a food truck.

“In QCC’s hospitality degree program you have to do a co-op. I’ve been working at the food truck, ‘The Dogfather’ and it’s been a blast. It’s made me want to do my own food truck even more,” he said. “I found the co-op through Pat Hutchinson (Professor of Hospitality and Recreation Management). She knows everyone.”

Mr. Barnardo took the roundabout route to QCC. His dad was a Navy veteran and so it wasn’t a far stretch for him to enter the U.S. Navy right out of high school and serve for eight years. He worked as an electrician for almost five years, during which he was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2008 he was selected to serve onboard the USS Constitution.

“I was basically a teacher and gave thousands of people tours of the ship,” he said.

During that time he also was part of an honor guard at Red Sox games, Celtics games and coordinated the honor guard during the Boston Pops Hatch Shell show in 2011. When he got out of the service he worked for an electrical company doing medium and high voltage testing. He did that for five years before moving on to Walker Magnetics.

“I was a sales engineer without the engineering degree. I loved that job but they closed the office,” he said.

It was getting laid off that spurred him to talk to a veteran’s agent about his dream to one day own a restaurant or a food truck. He used his G.I. Bill, which enabled him to have his tuition paid for, a book stipend and housing allowance. This was instrumental for him to be able to attend college as a single dad to seven-year-old daughter, Isabella.

“I found out QCC has a hospitality program and I realized this time there were no more excuses,” he said. “I was terrified last winter but I did both spring and both summer sessions and I’m killing it.”

Today, more often you’ll find Mr. Barnardo in the Veteran Affairs office on campus. He has become active in the Veterans Club.

“I like being with fellow like-minded people. This office is what I’ve been missing in my life,” he said.

Mr. Barnardo is set to graduate next spring.  He already had a handful of credits from the military which saved him both money and time.

“I’m using the G.I. Bill and once I graduate here I plan to transfer to Nichols College to get my business degree. I love it here at QCC. I’m excited but nervous to transfer,” he said, adding, “I hope my experience is as good as here.”