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Sam Barnes


Today, Sam Barnes is the chief operating officer of Commonwealth Associates, Inc., a premier engineering, design and consulting firm headquartered in Jackson. He thanks Jackson College for giving him a good start toward his career goal.

A graduate of Hanover-Horton High School, Barnes dreamed of becoming an engineer, and that meant a college education. Jackson College was accessible and affordable, and his experience didn’t disappoint. He credits excellent instructors with helping him on his academic path, providing a solid basis to continue his studies. He completed a transfer program at Jackson Community College before transferring to the University of Michigan to study mechanical engineering, where he earned a bachelor’s degree. “Transferring to the University of Michigan, I didn’t skip a beat. I felt that I was just as prepared as the students that started at the four-year institutions.”

Committed to his community, Barnes has been a member of the Cascades Lions Club since 1998, serving terms as president, secretary, and board member. Barnes also has volunteered to share career information about engineering with the Explorers. He proudly served his country as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves from 1986-’92. Barnes has served on the Jackson College Board of Trustees since 2008 and is currently board chair.

“Jackson College is a very important piece of the community, for many reasons. One, it’s access for those that want to attend higher education. It’s affordable, it’s easy to get too, but it’s also an economic engine for our community,” Barnes said. “I’m excited to be part of Jackson College. When I had the opportunity to run as a member of the Board of Trustees, I saw that as my way of giving back to an institution that I give a lot of credit to for where I’m at today.”

Barnes is the father of three children, all of whom have attended Jackson College.