From Soldier to Student: Jay’s Journey of Self-Discovery

Jamshaid “Jay” Khan is something of a trailblazer. He was one of the first of his family to attend college, and that was after his three-year service in the army, also a first among kin. Life before the military certainly had its share of challenges, however. “I watched my parents, new to this country, work so hard to provide for my family.. So when I was asked about my aspirations as a kid, my answer was money. At the time, all I wanted was to earn an income that would comfortably support my family. Other kids would react in surprise, asking, that’s it? That’s your dream? But they didn’t know what it was like.

 

From Soldier...

That drive to provide a better life for himself and his family only deepened once Jay joined the army at age 19. Talking with Jay, you could sense that he felt an obligation to find something within himself through service to his country. He even was on the path to become a teacher before enlisting in the Army.

So what was Jay looking for, exactly? In his own words, direction. “I adopted a work ethic and discipline [in the army]. Every day I’m up at 6. I like to make the most of my time during the day.” Though his family didn’t want to see him leave, he says he doesn’t regret it. That might be due to the fact that Jay saw the soldier’s life as an existential calling. He wanted to join for as long as he could remember.  But after three years of honorable service in the infantry, Jay left to pursue a college degree. Still, the army certainly took its toll on him: “I love what I did, but I certainly feel like my knees have seen better days.”

Even with the hindsight of his place in the world now and what he’s been through, Jay acknowledges that his military experiences have made him who he is. Plus, army benefits were an enticement in their own right: a plethora of perks including a housing stipend, and school was paid for when he decided to pursue a degree in management information systems.

 

...To Student

So where’s Jay now? He’s working on his education at Temple with the funding he’s received. He spends his weekdays working at his internship (FactSumo!) and drowning in a different kind of workload: homework. His weekends are spent with his girlfriend, Giselle, in New York. Jay hopes to move there someday, citing his love for the culture and diversity of the city.  

Jay is pursuing these goals by finding his own answers along the way. It’s something he’s been doing his entire life. His parents, Jay says, were immigrants navigating life in America, and acted as a profound influence: “They gave me all they could and worked hard every day to provide for my siblings and me. I am forever grateful to them for all they have sacrificed. I want to be successful in life to show them that their sacrifices were worth it and want to take care of them as soon as I can.” Jay sees himself as self-sufficient, often he figured things out for himself, and in that respect, not much has changed since.

 

Lessons Learned

Jay’s words of wisdom for any soon-to-be servicemen and women? “Get a journal and write in it every night. You’ll have a place to vent some frustrations and a memory of your days in the service. Both are priceless.”

Jay’s attitude inspired us to create a study guide for the ASVAB test so aspiring servicemen and women can get the job they’ve always wanted. 

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