Soldier earns valedictorian honors

After working 12 hours a day as a hazardous materials specialist at Bagram air base in Afghanistan, Army Staff Sgt. Dysha Huggins-Hodge studied in the computer lab, determined to complete an associate degree at Anne Arundel Community College on schedule — and to earn A’s. Now stationed in Maryland, the 4.0 student gave the valedictorian speech at her graduation last week, reports the Washington Post.

She plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice and social work and eventually go for a PhD. Her inspiration is her son Micah, born two years ago with serious medical problems.

“Every minute of my free time was homework. Every second,” said Huggins-Hodge, 25, now stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. “I would Skype with my family, but at the same time on a split screen I would have my homework up.”

Despite her work schedule, Huggins-Hodge turned in every assignment. She took exams via Skype.

In her speech, Huggins-Hodge told students to work to achieve their goals:

“Just because you are a wife or you are a mother or you are a soldier or whatever it is that you have going on in your life, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t do more — that you can’t figure it out.”

Anne Arundel Community College has a partnership with the military, notes the Post. About 300 service members and veterans take online courses through the college.