SPRINGFIELD—One Illinois lawmaker will fulfill his longtime dream Sunday of being a soldier, a businessman and a lawyer.
State Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Orland Hills, who graduates with a law degree this weekend from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, will add that milestone to his masters degree in business administration from the University of Illinois-Urbana and his 10-year service in the military.
The 33-year-old legislator first became interested in those careers when his grandmotherly high school civics teacher touted them as examples of successful people.
“I thought: ‘If that’s what you got to do in this crazy world to succeed, well I’ll do all three’,” said Hastings, who will join at least 14 other state senators who have a degree in law.
The West Point graduate, who was elected to the state senate in 2012, said his background serving a yearlong tour in Iraq has prepared him for his current work as a legislator.
“I always joke that I’ve gone from real wars to verbal wars,” he said with a laugh. “But serving the people and serving in the military, there’s no difference. It’s not for the money: It’s about duty, honor and country.”
The young army veteran, who earned a Bronze Star Medal, the fourth-highest individual military honor, said he treats his staff members like his soldiers.
“They are part of team Hastings,” he said. “We want that environment of camaraderie. It’s not like House of Cards. We have a ‘can do’ attitude at the office, just like the attitude we had in the military.”
Although Hastings initially had reserves about entering the scrutiny of public office—something he learned firsthand growing up when his father became town mayor—he said the work is worth it.
“The greater good outweighs the burden of the office,” Hastings said. “And just like in law, I want to set a precedent. I want to set an example, set a standard, for those who seek public office.”