Student Veteran of the Month
By Lauren Reece
Ian Darbyshire signed his enlistment paperwork to join the U.S. Army at 17 years old — before he had even received his high school diploma.
“I knew if I went to college, after graduation I wouldn’t know what I would want to do and would probably get a degree in a field I didn’t feel passionate about,” said Darbyshire, a senior in criminal justice.
A major inspiration to join was his older brother, who also was a service member, and Darbyshire’s devastating memories of the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks.
Service members make sacrifices every day, and Darbyshire demonstrated that when he took his oath. He left his family and future wife back in Chicago.
Darbyshire began his military service at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he learned skills that would not only save his life, but also the lives of those around him, such as weapons operation and maintenance and land reconnaissance. After basic and advanced individual training, he attended Airborne School and became a paratrooper.
During active duty, Darbyshire achieved the rank of E5, a sergeant in the Army, and served for five years. He deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, from 2008 to 2009 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While deployed, Darbyshire had many roles and responsibilities, including machine gunner, paratrooper and infantryman.
Darbyshire was awarded an Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Overseas Service Ribbon. He also received his Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge and Expert Marksmanship Badge.
He was honorably discharged from the Army in 2012.
“I chose UIC because I wanted to move back to the Chicago area to be with my wife and to be closer to my family again,” he said.
After graduation, he plans to continue to serve his country by seeking employment with a federal law enforcement agency.
“I’m most interested in the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Homeland Security,” he said.