Perseverance is a potent word to recent Blue Ridge Community College graduate Valorie Kier-Johnson.
She began taking classes in the fall of 2005 and became actively involved in campus organizations such as the SPECTRUM Multi-Cultural Club. “I was really enjoying my classes,” Valorie said. “I hadn’t really joined any clubs in high school, so I was doing something different by getting involved with SPECTRUM.”
Then Valorie joined the Army National Guard, juggling her coursework and basic training at Fort Jackson, SC.
In 2009, Valorie was deployed to Afghanistan for 9 months with the 276th Engineer Battalion. She performed her duties as a driver of supply convoys honorably, and returned home to the Shenandoah Valley to resume her studies in the spring of 2010.
“I never thought about giving up on my education,” she says. “I wanted to go straight back because I knew I would have to catch up as best I could. I was very motivated.”
Though the deployment took its toll physically and mentally, Valorie would not be deterred, and earned an associate’s degree and a general education certificate in May. Recently engaged to a fellow soldier she met while deployed, Valorie plans to transfer to a four-year school to study botany.
“I feel like I have a bright future,” Valorie said. “My life is moving at a fast pace, and I feel really good about that.”