For many local students, college challenges may range from term paper deadlines to running out of battery power on their laptop. But for one Joplin man, it meant enduring WiFi blackouts during online courses, traveling thousands of miles, and even worrying about Taliban violence nearby.
“Hasn’t quite hit me yet, I still feel like I’ve got something due that I should go work on,” says Kenny Braun, MSSU Graduate.
But Kenny Braun of Joplin is done with his Bachelor’s of Science degree. It’s not an easy accomplishment when you’re suddenly based in the Middle East with two semesters to go.
“I think I did 9 hours over the summer and 17 or 18 this fall,” says Kenny Braun.
Braun started out as a typical college student in 2015. But earlier this year, he got the chance to work as a Department of Defense contractor in the Middle East.
“Focuses on tunnel detection for the US government. So Afghanistan, we go base to base on mission where they need us looking for insurgent tunnels that the Taliban is working on,” says Braun.
He decided he could do both – work counter terrorism and finish his degree.
“Doing biology overseas was difficult, they would mail me a lab kit and I’m trying to think where can I go pick flowers over here. How can I stay safe and go out and try to find acquire water samples,” says Braun.
And the hurdles didn’t stop there. Security issues sometimes meant no base WiFi when homework was due.
“You have to go try to buy a Sapphire or a WiFi puck – and they’re a weak signal. And you’re just seeing the wheel of death spinning as you’re trying to submit assignments,” says Braun.
Somehow it all worked – thanks in large part to the extra support he got from the campus.
“Professors here were great – I told them my situation, we’re not going to give you the degree but as long as you’re willing to work for it we’ll work with you,” says Braun.
A give and take that means tomorrow, Kenny Braun gets to graduate.