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Where are they now?

Lily Werner, Print Features Editor

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Bruce Peterson

Ever wonder what happened to that guy from the graduating class of ‘82? If so, I have the answers and insights to the alumni that once roamed the same halls that you walk through every day.

Bruce Peterson is currently a firefighter and paramedic in Barrington with five kids who have all attended BHS as well. After high school, Peterson moved onto Harper college for his associate’s degree in Fire Science and later studied at Southern Illinois for his Bachelor’s degree in Fire Service Administration.  

“I obtained my degree in an alternative way,” Peterson said. “In my mid 40’s, I decided to get my degree while working full time. Suffice to say, I did not have a lot of free time.”

Although many may be uneasy about going back to school as an adult, Peterson found it to be quite enjoyable.

“I found it fun to be the oldest one in my class, often older than the teachers,” Peterson said. “It made me feel young again to go back to school.”

However, Peterson has realized how different college is from his years in high school. Students in high school just pass classes because they have to, but college pushes you to achieve a specific major that will define your future. Nonetheless, Peterson does recollect some perks to attending BHS that students can only dream of today.

“My favorite memory back in the 80s was the open campus,” Peterson said. “We had the ability to come and go as we pleased throughout the day. Sorry kids, I think our class ruined that for everybody.”

Years later, Peterson realized just how helpful BHS was when preparing students for college. Peterson has some regrets though because he did not study for a four-year degree right after graduation. Instead, Peterson got a full-time job to start earning money, but has “been playing catch up ever since.”

“My best advice to everyone is if you don’t want to go to college right away at least take a couple classes a semester to inch towards a degree,” Peterson said. “Like everything, once you stop, it is hard to start again.”

In the end, everything turned out for Peterson. After achieving his four-year degree, he has become a successful firefighter and works hard every day to save lives. Peterson has to work with dying and sick people daily so never takes for granted his time with family because has now learned how truly fragile life can be.

Peterson wouldn’t be where he is today if not for his hard work and dedication in school. After finally realizing what an outstanding student he was after returning to school in his 40’s, Peterson went on to achieve great things. He was taught many lessons along the way and learned from each and every one of them.

“I learned late in life that if you want to truly succeed you have to separate yourself from the thousands of other people that want your job,” Peterson said. “The only way to do that is through a college degree… Don’t let your high school experience and grades define who you are. College is a completely different experience and environment and you will excel once you become focused.”

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Where are they now?