Lacking focus, he joined the Navy and spent the next four years as a hospital corpsman. After a wrist injury, Hamilton was honorably discharged from the Navy. Soon he found himself talking to the staff of the Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Program, which assists veterans with service-related disabilities in planning for and finding employment. He told his counselor about his interests in studying architecture.
Tidewater Community College provided the best opportunity. So six years after dropping out of high school, Hamilton was a student again. Though he had ambitions to study architecture, he wasn’t sure of his path until he enrolled in Sergie Dolgalev’s Introduction to Architecture class.
Among the first assignments he turned in? A drawing of a Corinthian column, which made an impression on Dolgalev.
“Are you interested in architecture?” Dolgalev asked.
“Absolutely,” Hamilton responded.
“You’ll definitely do well,” the professor told him.
The encouragement came at the right time. “After he told me that, I was all in,” Hamilton says. “I owe a lot to Dr. Dolgalev.”
While Dolgalev game him the confidence, Hamilton improved his study habits thanks to William Rodner, professor of history. Rodner’s tests were daunting given an overwhelming amount of material, much of it from slides. Fastidious note taking and class attendance helped Hamilton thrive in the class.
“I thank him for giving me a good understanding of what college is like,” Hamilton says.
From TCC, Hamilton transferred into the five-year Master of Architecture Program at Hampton University, graduating in 2009. After an internship with the City of Virginia Beach, he began work as an engineer for Naval Sea Systems Command.
It’s a job he loves, and he’s thankful for the role TCC played in his journey.
“TCC provided the springboard I needed to leap toward a new profession. The teachers and professors were very understanding when I was in school,” he says. “I’m glad I got back on track.”