By Helen Mannion
As 2009 comes to a close, one of Rider’s and the country’s finest will be headed to Iraq to serve in the United States Air Force (USAF).
Xarviera Brown, 24, is a sophomore journalism major who divides her time between attending school and working in the medical field in the USAF. Her schedule is tough, but she still finds a way to make it work.
“I come to school in the morning, Monday through Friday, from 8 to 11:20,” Brown said. “I go to work at night from 6:30 at night to 6:30 in the morning on base. I work 12 hour shifts, so I mainly work four or five days out of the week with two or three days off.”
Brown, from Sicklerville, N.J., is no stranger to Rider. It was her first-choice college, and this fall she returned to complete her degree.
“I went to Rider right after I graduated high school, so I started here in 2003,” Brown said. “I went from 2003 to 2005. Then I dropped out and I enlisted in the Air Force, and then I came back to finish my degree.”
Rider has assisted Brown in her life as a student-soldier. She has a strong support system here, including Dr. Shawn Kildea, professor of communication and journalism.
“I would say [Rider] has helped me,” Brown said. “[Dr.] Kildea, he’s helped me a lot because I’ve been missing classes to do my training and all of that for my deployment.”
Kildea has helped students in his class with unique situations in the past, but nothing like Brown’s. He was very understanding when Brown had to miss several meetings of his class for training.
“I can think of no better excuse for missing classes than the one I got from Xarviera Brown this semester,” Kildea said. “She had to miss a series of classes because the USAF, in which she proudly serves, ordered her to report to rifle training to prepare for her deployment to Iraq. I must say, I’ve never heard that one before. I have done everything I can to accommodate her and make her experience in my class a pleasant and intellectually stimulating one. I honor her commitment and personally thanked her for her service. Going to school full time and preparing to ship off to a war zone, I’d say Ms. Brown has raised the bar for her classmates.”
Brown said that she could leave for Iraq any time between Nov. 28 and Dec. 26. While she has not received any orders yet, 50 others whom she will be joining have been told that they will leave on Nov. 28. Brown is still unsure when she will leave, although she has a feeling it will be toward the end of the month. She hopes it is closer to the end of December so she can finish the semester at Rider.
“I will be going to Iraq for six to eight months,” Brown said. “It’s like a last-minute thing, so I’m not ready. But I’ll deal with it.”