HawkStrong: Anthony Preston’s second chance fulfills his dream

Release Date
Anthony Preston standing in front of a telescope

At HFC, Anthony Preston learned that his greatest joy in academics is full-time research.

“I absolutely love research,” said Preston, of Southgate. “Anything I can do with physics, I’m there.”

“Cool and terrifying” to be on Channel 7

The eldest of two and an alumnus of Southgate Anderson High School, Preston graduated from HFC this spring, earning his associate degree in general studies. His focus was physics with an overall GPA of 3.9.

During his time at the College, Preston was a member of the Henry Ford II Honors Program and the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges Student Mathematics League.

“Anthony is a very active student who works hard to learn new concepts,” said HFC math instructor Michael Zalzali.

Preston has also been a NASA Eclipse Ambassador and hosted three information sessions about the April 8 North American eclipse, which got the attention of Sarah Michals of Channel 7 in Detroit.

“It was cool and terrifying at the same time to be on TV, because I didn’t know the media was coming,” recalled Preston. “Out of nowhere, I saw Sara Michals. I knew I had to make everything sound good for the interview.”

HFC provides a much-needed second chance

Preston began his education at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He dropped out after one year because he wasn’t sure what he wanted to study, and felt unfocused. So he took a job as a machinist for several years. Although he enjoyed the work, he couldn’t see himself being in the skilled trades for the rest of his life, so he gave higher education another shot. He enrolled at HFC in 2022.

“The best choice I ever made was coming to HFC. I knew it was affordable and close to home. It allowed me to regroup. I don’t think I would be where I am if I didn’t come here. I got lucky enough to meet (HFC physics and astronomy instructor) Jesse Mason. I don’t think I could have accomplished what I have in a short amount of time if it weren't for Jesse and HFC. I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend, either. I have some lifelong friends through taking classes and doing research; I couldn’t imagine navigating college life without them. I credit my success to those people.”

“From day one, Anthony has been a stellar research assistant whose professionalism and dedication shine even brighter than the black hole accretion disks we study!” said Mason. “With a joyful demeanor and an unparalleled work ethic, Anthony consistently exceeded my expectations of a research assistant, frequently anticipating and fulfilling our project needs with enthusiasm and precision without being asked. I am so sad to see him leave our team, but so incredibly proud of him.”

HFC prepared Preston to transfer to U-M

Initially, Preston wanted to return to UM-Dearborn as a transfer student. But Mason encouraged him to apply to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. This fall, Preston will transfer to U-M Ann Arbor, where he will complete his bachelor’s degree in physics. He aspires to earn a doctorate in astrophysics at U-M.

“I had a feeling I’d get in, but I was a still a nervous wreck waiting for the acceptance letter. My family are U-M fans. I was very proud of being a Wolverine, and I am proud to become a Wolverine again,” said Preston. “HFC prepared me to transfer to a university. There is a level of trepidation, but I’m ready for it. Ready for the work. I’m not ready for the change of scenery, but I know I can do it. It’s just part of going to somewhere new. I will miss the College.”

HFC English instructor Scott Still met Preston during his first semester at HFC. Still taught Preston in College Writing and Research. He also served as his mentor in the Honors Program.

“Throughout the semester, Anthony quickly distinguished himself as a sharp, mature, curious, and intellectually engaged student,” recalled Still. “A few semesters later, I was happy and not surprised to find his name on my list of assigned Honors Program mentees. Throughout this past year, it has been a wonderfully fulfilling experience to work with Anthony on requirements like developing his résumé and personal statement. Even more, I have enjoyed getting to know him better personally and learning about the road that led him back to higher ed. I share an amateur interest too in the field that he plans to pursue academically and professionally (physics), which has only made working with him all the more intriguing. I am excited for him as he transfers to U-M, and I have faith that he will ‘do HFC proud’ in his educational pursuits there!”