Miles grew up in Snohomish County for most of his life, he grew up with a total of 7 siblings, him being the second eldest. Miles spent a lot of time outdoors with his siblings when he wasn’t at school. School life was decent for Miles, he enjoyed learning but the work outside of the classroom was difficult for him. It was hard for Miles to keep his attention focused on homework. Even though his attention wandered him elsewhere at home, he always enjoyed learning during class.

Miles decided to join the military at 17 years old as a US Army Reserve. He went to training and learned to do welding. Miles did welding for 8 years before being deployed in Iraq to help build permanent bridges. He was deployed in 2003-2004 and then one more time in 2008-2009. During the time in between, he had two children. In his second time in the war, there were not enough people on his team. This led to him getting severely injured. He was working on a truck that two people were required to lift, but he had to lift it by himself. When lifting he strained his back, leaving him permanently injured.

Photo of a man with glasses holding a graduation certificate in front of a wood wall with an art installation with colorful balls.

When taken to the hospital, Miles was offered surgery with A 50% rate of success and a 50% chance of paralysis. Miles did not want to gamble with his life and chose to heal the best he could on his own, without surgery. After he spent some time recovering, he went back to work as a welder in the military. He couldn’t continue for long, the amount of movement was too much stress on his back. Finding a job that would accommodate his injuries became difficult, so Miles decided to take a step back and try to heal further.

Miles became the primary caretaker of his children since he was at home, he was happy to be with his family and keep busy. As his children became older and took care of themselves Miles started to feel restless. “I was like a broken record. I would complain about the same things over and over again. I was getting tired of it. I needed something new.” Miles said. He felt weighed down and stagnant. He had been out of the workforce for seven years, in his words “it felt like time had melted together.” His final push to him starting to look for work again was the rent going up in his home during the Covid pandemic.

HopeWorks was something he found online and decided to give it a try. In the classroom, Miles was described as a punctual, easygoing person with a quiet sense of humor. He was praised for how humble he was. He never boasted and allowed people to learn, even if he already knew what people were being taught. Miles is easy to work with and his trainers in the program endorsed his ability to work well with a team. Miles is now looking forward to getting back into school. He wants to pursue a career in physical therapy to be able to help people who were in similar situations to him. Miles had this bit of advice to give to anyone wanting to join our program. “Don’t stop, get in and graduate if you can. There is no reason not to.”

Congratulations Miles for graduating from our program!