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Perseverance pays off for soldier

After earning her Bachelor of Science degree, Corporal Arezu Taghvaei, a refugee from Iran, joined the Army to give back to the country that has embraced her. Photo credit: 2nd Brigade, 2 SBCT

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Corporal Arezu Taghvaei faces the challenges of life with perseverance.

"There were no shortcuts or workarounds, and the only way forward was navigating through them," began the Joint Base Lewis-McChord based soldier assigned to the 2nd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, as a highly-trained information specialist.

"I am proud to say that I tend to persevere over whatever problems come my way, even if they are out of my control."

Her sense of perseverance began as a young child when Taghvaei's family moved from their small farm and into the northern Iranian city of Sari in order for her to attend a girls-only primary school.

"This is where I experienced persecution and bullying for being a Bahai," continued Taghvaei, "and being of the Bahai faith automatically makes one a social outcast in Iran."

One of the most persecuted religious minorities in the world, the Bahai faith has been viewed by the country's clerics as a potential challenger since its inception over 200 years ago.

"I was considered filthy for not being a Muslim; people would throw rocks at my family and house; one time my mother was struck by a vehicle ... and as she lay bleeding and unconscious on the road, nobody would help her," Taghvaei said.

One of her fondest memories is of her paternal grandfather who always supported her choices. 

"He used to always take me to school on his bicycle," she recalled of the man who just recently passed.

With no future, as she was not allowed to continue her education beyond high school and because of the constant persecution for being a Bahai, at 17 she crossed the Iranian border into Turkey and immigrated to this country a year later.

"Growing up alone in the United States without any guidance made me excel at failure," continued Taghvaei, "which eventually led me to believe in myself and overcome obstacles."

Initially attending Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland to take English-as-a-Second Language courses, Taghvaei soon began to take additional courses.

During this time, she worked full-time to support herself, earned an associate degree, and eventually transferred to the University of Maryland where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management.

After graduation her husband encouraged her to fulfill her desire to join the Army.

"Joining the Army was a very proud moment for me, a woman who came here as a refugee," concluded Taghvaei. 

"I see so many of my fellow soldiers who cannot wait to get out after completing their contract.... But the truth is, it is what we make of it. There is no job out there that comes with the level of fulfillment that our armed services provide. I play a very small role in defending our great nation, yet it is one of the most rewarding things I do. Every day, I get the honor to serve the United States of America and its people." 

That's perseverance and patriotism.

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