Published Date: October 21, 2014
Patrick Hughes, BA '18, isn't a typical college freshman. Rather than matriculating directly out of high school like the majority of UD's undergraduates, Hughes has a wealth of life experience under his belt, from the Marines to the Fort Worth Police Department. Additionally, he does something a bit unusual in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex: he raises wolves.
Hughes' first wolf was Karmi, a rescue he and his parents took in. Then came Hunter W. Wolf (pictured at right with Hughes), who was Hughes' best friend until Hunter's death at age 15. Currently, Hughes and his wife, Adrielle, have a pack of seven wolves sharing their home -- another rescue, Kyla, and her six grown pups (including Plato, Aristotle and Hati Agamemnon). The pups' father, Togo, lives with Hughes' good friend Lee; Hughes rescued Togo after he was hit by a car. "There's just something about these animals," said Hughes. "They're always happy to see you; you can tell them all your secrets, and they'll never lie to you."
After serving in the Marines, Hughes joined the Fort Worth Police Department, where his uncle was a lieutenant. "I was the honor graduate from the police academy, but I soon found out that being on the street was a lot different from being in school," Hughes said.
He was on the force for three and a half years. In that time, he was involved in six vehicular pursuits and received nine commendations, but, according to Hughes, most of the time the job was about talking to people, trying to provide what assistance he could. "The money was outstanding, but what I really liked was helping people," Hughes said.
He recalls, in particular, a conversation with a gang member he was arresting. With the suspect in handcuffs, Hughes sat down beside him on the curb, and they just talked for a while. The man told Hughes that he didn't like any police officers, but if he were going to respect any of them, he would respect Hughes.
Hughes would have needed more education to move up in rank in the police force, however, so eventually he decided to go back to school. He accumulated approximately 138 credit hours in various community colleges around the DFW area before finally achieving a long-time goal of coming to UD. He is majoring in biology and physics, eventually planning to get his doctorate in exobiology. "I'm so happy I'm here," Hughes said. "I've wanted to come to UD ever since a recruiter came to my high school way back when. The classics program, the Catholicism, the Rome Program...all were factors in my desire to come here."
He hopes to go to Rome next year but will have to make arrangements for the wolves first.
In addition to his classes at UD and a job as a security supervisor, Hughes founded and runs the nonprofit organization Sword of the Motherland Foundation, which is dedicated to the preservation of Russian military history. He also writes the science-fiction role-playing game "Stellar Horizons" and has won awards for both a creative nonfiction piece and a play he wrote.
His priority at the moment, though, is his UD coursework. "The difference between the quality of work expected in a community college and the quality of work expected here at UD has become very apparent to me," Hughes said. "It's been an adjustment. But I'm getting there."
When he struggles, he remembers a lesson he learned from his wolf Hunter, who made his way around on three legs once bone cancer made use of the fourth impossible: "If you can't run on four, walk on three," Hughes said.