ECTC, all in the family | ECTC

ECTC, all in the family

Published on Feb 22, 2023

Father Thomas and son Tre Hackett

Among ECTC’s student population, 6.95 percent are prior military or active duty using Veterans Affairs benefits to pay for tuition. Thomas Hackett is one of those students. A former Army infantryman, he retired as a sergeant first class after 21 years of military service.

Hackett’s military retirement may have been the catalyst to return to school, but it was the challenge from his children that became the motivation. Hackett’s son Tre and daughter Leila also attend ECTC and say it’s pretty cool to be attending classes at the college at the same time as each other.

“I was at the college to navigate the VA benefits for my daughter's tuition when I met Mr. Harris in the VA office,” Hackett said. “He answered every question we had, got all of the paperwork straightened out and then challenged me to go back to school.”

That challenge stuck with Hackett as Tre enrolled in classes last semester.

“I thought to myself, what have I got to lose,” he said. “I went from taking six hours my first bi-term to 17 hours this semester. The ability to take online and in-person classes helps me to structure my week in a way that works for me.”

Tre, an Associate of Arts student and 2022 high school graduate, said community college has been the plan for a while.

“I heard several of my peers talk about their experience at a community college with the smaller class sizes and the ability to work through general education classes before transferring to a four-year college,” Tre said. “My plan is to transfer to WKU for a bachelor’s in theater to become a voice actor.”

Beyond small class sizes, the people and environment are what Tre most enjoys about attending classes at ECTC.

“I love it. All the teachers have given me 100 percent and I’m able to give them 100 percent back. Even the students in class are helpful to each other,” Tre said. “The computer lab has been helpful; the library is my go-to place between classes to get homework finished and relax. I take both in-person and online classes, which is helpful to pace out my week and not be overwhelmed. It’s a great balance for me.”

Hackett added that instructors and people who are intentional have made his ECTC experience a positive one.

“The faculty and staff here have blown me away with how helpful they are and how much they care about our success,” Hackett said. “I’m taking English 101 with Ms. Fox right now who is also an Army veteran. She’s able to use her prior experience to connect the material to my life experience. There’s a tight-knit feel that sets you up for success here.”

To learn more about how you can jump start your education, visit our website at or submit our free admission application.

Those needing to speak to someone about their military benefits for tuition assistance can contact the ECTC Veterans Affairs office at or by phone at 270-706-8815.