Finding Success with Support from SDI

  • Joey Upper

SDI graduate Josh Stevens is unique.

Granted, all of SDI’s graduates are unique – something we’re extremely proud of. However, to the best of this author’s knowledge, there are no other graduates who graduated SDI with an excellent record after having sustained a traumatic brain injury in the service of our country and not telling anyone about it until he had graduated.

It’s astounding.

Biting Off More Than He Could Chew

“When I originally enrolled at SDI, I was an active duty Army infantryman coming up on the end of my third enlistment,” Stevens recalled in an interview with SDI. “Unsure about my future, I decided to pad my resume with some formal education in a field I was truly passionate about.”

Stevens quickly realized that SDI is quite a bit more than mere resume padding. Despite Stevens’ attitude and character, school quickly presented itself to him as a significant challenge.

“It was difficult to go back to school after all those years away from the environment, but SDI really went the extra mile to help provide an easy-to-follow, straightforward process that was focused on me, the student,” he said.

This man gave his all to his country, and it very nearly cost him his life. He could have sat back and let his classes go.

Stevens’ academic career may have started off with some mild turbulence, but it was nothing compared to facing life after receiving the news of his injury.

An Unexpected Turn

“Halfway through the program,” Stevens recalled, “my life took an unexpected turn when I was diagnosed with a very aggressive, non-cancerous tumor in my inner ear that was the result of a traumatic brain injury I received while in Afghanistan.

“The neurological damage was extensive, and effectively ended my military career when I was medically retired due the irreparable complications from the ordeal.”

You would think that such a life-altering incident would cause a student to step back from the rigors of academia, perhaps permanently. No one would blame him. Pushing through the curriculum without any kind of course correction would be absurd.

“I personally wouldn’t have been able to have been half as successful as I have been were it not for SDI. I am extremely grateful to them for all they’ve done, and for the excellent programs and support they’ve provided along the way.”

That’s not Stevens.

Sticktoitiveness

“Throughout all of (the ordeal), a big point of pride for me was being able to continue my education through SDI. Despite all the treatments, medications, setbacks, and surgery, I was still able to graduate, and in many classes, with a very high GPA. I was also able, with the help of SDI, to get published in Gun Digest, and I was able to lay the groundwork for my new business as a gunsmith.”

It is difficult to put into words how inspiring his sticktoitiveness is. This man gave his all to his country, and it very nearly cost him his life. He could have sat back and let his classes go.

But that’s not Stevens.

In the face of what should have been a defeat, Josh Stevens excelled. Why?

He wants to light the way for others.

“My goal through all of this is to serve as an example to others that adversity isn’t a reason to roll over and give up. Instead, it’s an opportunity to excel and truly prove one’s worth.”

This was accomplished without telling a soul at SDI. It is humbling to be able to recount and be a part of his success story.

“I personally wouldn’t have been able to have been half as successful as I have been were it not for SDI. I am extremely grateful to them for all they’ve done, and for the excellent programs and support they’ve provided along the way.”

Josh Stevens, it’s our honor.

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