Marine Jim Brow studied day in, day out for seven months while on duty in Iraq. He graduated Friday night with a bachelor's degree from Texas Wesleyan University.
Marine held on for a degree
(Reprint from DFW.com, May 14, 2005)
FORT WORTH - Marine Chief Warrant Officer Jim Brow studied intensely, day after day for seven months, as his helicopter flew through some of the heaviest assaults against U.S. forces at the beginning of the war in Iraq.
He traveled over dangerous areas to maintain the early-detection radar shields, passing along intelligence and orders that gave American soldiers a chance to avoid incoming rockets and heavy artillery.
When time allowed, he kept his nose in a book.
On Friday night, the studying finally paid off.
Brow, father of four -- including a 7-month-old boy he met for the first time last month -- was among the 185 students graduating from Texas Wesleyan University.
"Sometimes when you set long-term goals, you never know if you are going to reach them," said Brow, who received a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies. "You just have to be persistent. If you want it bad enough, you'll get it. It just takes time."
Applause, cheers and an occasional air horn accompanied Wesleyan's class of 2005 as the graduates crossed the stage at Will Rogers Auditorium.
The university also conferred an honorary doctoral degree on Nirund Jivasantikarn, the president and founder of Yonok College in Lampang, Thailand. Jivasantikarn promised to continue to strengthen ties with Texas Wesleyan.
Commencement speaker Tamlyn Wright, class of '92, a free-lance production designer and art director, gave graduates a similar message, saying they will have to work hard to earn anything of value.
"It's time to cut loose, fly forward, bounce off and see where you land," Wright said.
Brow's determination to earn a degree began in 1987, the same year he enlisted in the Marine Reserves. The degree was sidetracked by his military duty and his civilian job in project management for RadioShack.
Leaving his family behind last year to fight with the 14th Marine Regiment became more difficult because his wife was pregnant with their fourth son. But Brow, who returned in April, said he stands ready to answer his nation's call to fight again if needed, as do the many Marines he interviewed in Iraq for a research paper.
"They miss their family. They miss their homes," he said. "But their motivation and morale is high, and they are glad to be there doing what they are doing."
Brow's determination is a good example for Wesleyan students to follow, said Associate Provost Helena Bussle, who worked with the university faculty and staff to send him textbooks and research assignments.
"We say that we want our students to do well, but we also say that we want them to do good. I think this was a good combination of the two," she said. "He'll be a good Wesleyan alum."