Chris Gray '12

Gray is a Human Resources (HR) Consultant with the Department of Veterans Affairs. He provides direct consultation to over 153 VA Hospitals throughout the country. From 2005 to 2009, Gray proudly served in the US Marine Corps as an Infantryman, with two tours in Iraq.

In 2009, after departing the military, Gray used the GI Bill at the University of Rio Grande and worked as a Veterans Benefits Advisor for the college. He graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management. Prior to graduation, he began his career with the VA as an Intern in HR. Since that time, he has have held a variety of technical jobs in VA human resources involving strategic workforce and succession planning, recruitment and placement, compensation, and classification.

In 2016, Gray was promoted to his current position working in Headquarters-Veterans Health Administration. He works virtually from his home for the VA, however, often must travel to one of the many hospitals throughout the country.

Gray is currently pursuing a PhD in HR Leadership from Sullivan University. He is married to Alisha Gray (URG Grad, Class of 2009- Accounting) and they have a son, Miles, who just turned five. They reside in Chillicothe, OH.

 

1.     What made you choose to pursue a college education at Rio Grande?

I choose Rio Grande because of the convenience, dedication to supporting Veteran students, and educational opportunities related to my long-term goals. Transitioning from the military was not easy, however, Rio Grande did everything they could to support that transition, and I could not be happier with selecting Rio Grande. The small class sizes and campus was a huge factor for me; it always felt very welcoming.

2.     How were you involved on Rio’s campus?

When I started at Rio Grande in 2009, the Veteran population on campus had grown three-fold. With many Veterans turning to college to provide the skill-set needed for transitioning to civilian life, we discovered a need and opportunity for the University. With a lot of support from the University, we developed several programs to aid our Veterans with college and the transition to civilian life.

3.     What did Rio offer you besides an education?

A purpose! I didn’t realize how passionate I was about supporting Veterans until Rio Grande allowed me an opportunity to serve our Veterans on campus. As an Advisor, I worked directly with Veterans in navigating their benefits and typical college entry. It was extremely rewarding knowing what happened at Rio will have a lasting impact on their lives.

4.     Was there any teacher, advisor, coach, etc. that made an impact on your life? How?

The entire Financial Aid team, I believe Meghann still works in Financial Aid as the Director. Fresh out of the military, they gave me a chance to give back, to learn, and was patient with me when I made mistakes. Those are life lessons I will forever carry with me. If it wasn’t for that office and the opportunity they gave me, I wouldn’t be here today.

5.     What did you learn about yourself during college?

A lot! Growing up, I was always told that I was ADHD and I couldn’t learn like the others. I allowed that to shape many of the choices I made in life. I learned at Rio, that I am capable, I can learn, and nothing is beyond reach. Rio Grande gave me an amazing confidence boost that was certainly needed, especially as I was struggling to transition from the military.

6.     Tell us about life after Rio.

When I left Rio Grande, I started working for the VA as an intern and was quickly promoted to specialist in 2013. In 2014, I started working from home for the Cleveland VA Medical Center and would travel frequently to provide training/consultation. In 2012, I also started working on my MBA in HR Management and completed my degree in 2013. In 2016, I accepted a position with headquarters and have worked there for almost two years. The VA is going through a lot of needed change, and I am very fortunate to be able to be part of that change.

7.     How did Rio prepare you for your career?

The biggest take away from Rio Grande was teaching the ability to think critically. No education can prepare a student for every possible problem they will face, however, Rio did a great job preparing us on how to address the issue, think through it, and consider the possible outcomes.

8.     Why are you proud to be a Rio Alumnus?

I consider Rio Grande to be a lighthouse; not only in Southeast Ohio, but far beyond. Not only do they have world-class educators, they support their students well beyond academics. I am forever proud to be an alumni of Rio Grande because they believed in me, they gave me an opportunity to grow, and give back to our Veterans.

9.  Do you have any advice for current students?

Find your passion and pursue it with everything that you have. I know that sounds like a cliché, but it is true. Whatever your passion is, you have been given it for a reason. Turn your passion into a niche and pursue it with all you have. There are a lot of challenges that we face, not only in Ohio, but around the world. With challenge, comes opportunity to fix what has been broken and improve ways of doing things.

10.  Is there anything else you would like to add?

The number one predictor of success, both in academics and life, is GRIT. GRIT can be defined as courage and resolve; strength of character.

“I won’t just have a job; I’ll have a calling. I’ll challenge myself every day. When I get knocked down, I’ll get back up. I may not be the smartest person in the room, but I’ll strive to be the grittiest.” - Angela Duckworth