Alumni Spotlight – Hugel

Who am I: John Hugel


  • 1997, Associates in Business Administration
  • 2018, BAS in Technology Management
  • 2020, BAS in Public Safety and Emergency Management

John Hugel has overcome more obstacles than the average college student. He has been deaf since birth. Many deaf children in the 1940-50s in were taught to lip read and went to speech therapists to learn how to talk. This was called “mainstreaming,” a process where deaf children “had to learn how to talk and act in the hearing world.”

John Hugel was raised in New York and moved to Venice, FL, just before Interstate 75 was finished. Throughout his life, he was told what his life would be. John decided that his life was his decision, and he would make it worth something. 

He has had many careers, raised six children, and completed three degrees from State College of Florida. Throughout his adult life, State College of Florida has been a constant presence, a family affair and a community of support. Not only did John attend State College of Florida, but he met his wife here, also a student. Two of his sons also went to State College of Florida.

Imagine being a child in elementary school and being told by your teacher they did not want to waste time teaching you because you were “deaf and dumb.” That you didn’t need to learn because you would never amount to anything. To be pushed through the school system. You ask to sit in front to read the teacher’s lips, and instead, you are seated in the back of the classroom because that’s your place. 


Now imagine that same child growing up and deciding that he would make a point. That he would graduate to make a difference and make a point. In 1997 John Hugel received his AA from State College of Florida. He completed his Associates in Business Administration in 1997, his BAS in Technology Management in 2018 and his BAS in Public Safety and Emergency Management in 2020.

Fewer than one in 20 Americans are deaf or hard of hearing, including around 20,000 students on college campuses. Two things that stood out to John at State College of Florida were the professors who supported and assisted him in the classroom, and the Disability Resource Center, whose staff supported him by providing resources to make a difference in his education. “To my surprise, being deaf did not affect my education at SCF because the Disability Resource Center made sure that I had what I needed to be able to take classes.” 

What advice do you have for current students?

v  Asks questions. Do not be afraid to ask the professors or staff questions.

v  Challenge the professor on their statements in class and make them prove their point. So, one can see the professor’s point of view and what they are trying to point out to you.

v  Challenge yourself to do better and learn more. Leaning does not stop when class is over or when you receive your diploma. Learning is an ongoing project throughout one’s life, for every day is a new experience, and most of all, there is plenty of room in one’s mind to gain more knowledge.