When Soldiers are deployed, they not only miss their families, but also often miss out on special life events. For Khadidja Diouf, a Soldier in the 111th Theater Engineer Brigade, this statement rings especially true.
SGT Diouf, 22, has been in the West Virginia Army National Guard for four years and is currently mobilized on her second deployment. During her first deployment, with the 157th Military Police Company to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba a few year ago, she missed her friend and families, but was still able to attend school online without missing any substantial events. This time, deployed with the 111th to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, she did miss a milestone event: graduation.
Although she was upset about missing her graduation, she knew that she would have more opportunities to shine in the future.
I recently had the chance to sit down and talk with Diouf about her past, present, and future.
Q: What degree did you recently graduate with?
A: Bachelors of Science in Accounting with a Minor in Leadership Studies from West Virginia University
Q: Although you missed your in-person graduation, what did it mean to you that the 111th conducted a ceremony for you in Kuwait?
A: It meant a lot to me that they held the ceremony. I really felt the love in that moment. It would not have been possible without the help of SPC Harris, though. I have grown very close with her throughout this deployment, so knowing that she made this this happen, everything from the decorations to the mock diploma, really meant a lot.
Q: Now that you have graduated with your Bachelor’s Degree, what is your plan?
A: In January of 2022 I will start submitting my applications to law school, and plan on attending my first law school class in Fall of 2022. I have always wanted to be a lawyer since I was a child, and that is something that has always been a part of my plan.
Q: What was your best memory of being a student at West Virginia University?
A: One of my best memories at WVU would be my first football game. That day I truly felt Mountaineer pride. Surrounded by all of my friends, just having fun and enjoying the moment. It also was the first time that I actually sang along to Country Roads – Magical!
Q: What has been your best memory of being in the National Guard?
A: While deployed with the 157th MP Co to Guantanamo Bay, I was lucky enough to get trained on the Polaris DAGOR. On about the fourth day of training we were out doing trails and it had rained the previous night, so there were mud holes throughout the trail. My sergeant said, “Let’s go muddin,” and that we did. I’m from the city, so I had never done anything like that before, but I had so much fun. By the time the training day was over, I was drenched in mud but had the biggest smile on my face.
Q: How has the experience of being a student and Soldier at the same time?
A: At sometimes it did become a bit overwhelming, especially when I was pulled out of my junior year of college for my first deployment, but I made it through. My professors were always very understanding and accommodating, as were my Sergeants and leaders at my Guard unit.
Q: This is your second deployment while also being a student – how did you manage to still graduate successfully?
A: If I set a goal I am going to achieve it; it’s really quite that simple. There were many obstacles that I had to overcome while being deployed but I always had one thing in mind – and that was graduating. Also, I have a very strong support system. Both my friends and family always give me words of encouragement when I am in need and I am forever grateful for that and them.
Q: What do you hope to gain from this deployment?
A: During this deployment I hope to excel not only at work, but also in my personal life. During my free time, I am focused on studying for the LSAT and spiritual growth. When at work, I always try to bring positive energy and put my all into my work.
Q: If there was one thing you could tell someone who has never met you before, what would it be?
A: My entire life I have strived to be the voice for those who could not speak. The voice for those who were silenced and told that no one cared about them or what they had to say. As I enter law school, I will keep that in mind and stand firm in my beliefs. I will continue to be the change I want to see.