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-Casey Brewster, U.S. Army

University of Arkansas
Health Sciences

To fulfill my desire to serve this great nation, I joined the Army National Guard in 1994 and served sixteen years in an infantry company. 

The most dangerous deployment of my career was Iraq in 2004-05, where I received a purple. My squad leader, Troy, had been after me for a few years to go to college, and Troy had continued this during the 2004-05 deployment. After multiple conversations about “bettering myself”, I started to think that maybe he had a point. I really wasn’t sold on the idea, I had always been a mediocre student in high-school. Reluctantly, I promised to give it a shot once we returned home. A few months later Troy was killed in an enemy ambush.  

As it is for most veterans after returning home from combat, life was a blurry mess. However, Troy had given me clarity in at least one important aspect of my life, and I decided to make good on my promise. A few years later I was graduating college in the top of my class, and applying to graduate school in the only field I had ever found remotely interesting – field biology.  

Today I am a PhD candidate at the University of Arkansas. Troy’s persistence not only helped me get to where I am today, but has also given me the opportunity to give back to my fellow veterans. I am currently putting together a project that focuses on getting veterans involved in biology; and I hope, will return the favor that was extended to me several years ago.