This time of year, many students are leaving college with a fresh degree. But one student is leaving the school with something altogether different: a Purple Heart.
Christina Humphrey was born in Colorado but has a story from abroad that could probably rival any of those from SMC's roughly 3,000 international students. From December 2003 to late 2007, she was in active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps—including service in Iraq.
"What [President John F. Kennedy] said in his inaugural address speaks to the most significant reason behind my enlistment," she told Santa Monica Patch. " 'Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend or oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.' "
While in Iraq, Humphrey earned her Purple Heart, an honor that is bestowed upon a member of the armed forces who is injured in combat or as a result of another action from an enemy.
As part of an all-female search team, she and her fellow service members were charged with searching women and children for munitions and other weapons coming into the city of Fallujah.
"Of course, as women military, we were a target from day one, and eventually we got hit pretty hard," Humphrey said.
When that happened, six female and male service members, from the Marine Corps and Navy, died. Thirteen more were wounded in action.
"The day afterward, the girls who remained on base ... came together and became the new search team," Humphrey said. "They went out that very day and continued to do so thereafter."
From all indications, JFK's words have prevailed over the horrific experience she underwent in Iraq. Despite the traumatic event, Humphrey is planning a long-term career in the Foreign Service. Having left SMC, she's transferring to Georgetown University, where she's been accepted in time for the fall semester. While there, she plans to finish a degree in Arabic and enroll in the Master of Arts program in conflict resolution.
Before Humphrey enters that phase of her education, she's garnering a different set of D.C.-related career experiences, via a congressional internship. After spending the past two and a half years at SMC in Santa Monica—where her mom lives—Humphrey left for D.C. 10 days ago (missing the SMC commencement, unfortunately).
"[The internship involves] mostly answering phones and returning constituent phone calls, however I believe there will be many more opportunities as long as I look for them and take advantage of the ones that come my way," she said.
For someone with as rich a life as Humphrey has led thus far, it shouldn't be a problem.