It’s a long way from Iraq, but this Army veteran made it all the way to the stage at graduation, even though 13 bullets and a college plan gone awry nearly came between him and the achievement.
Jay Strobino walked across the stage at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Saturday, accepting his degree in exercise science and a minor in biology.
“MTSU is one of the only universities that acknowledges their veteran graduates separate and it was such an honor,” Strobino told InsideEdition.com. “At graduation, you’re wearing your stole and they have every veteran rise and you’re acknowledged separately from the entire graduating class. And it was just amazing.”
He explained that at one point, this accomplishment didn’t seem like it was in the books.
Strobino had always wanted to join the Army, and after 9/11, he set plans into action. He began basic training in 2002, and during his second tour of Iraq in 2006, he was shot 13 times.
“One of them broke my leg. The first one hit my femur, and one of them hit my arm,” he recalled. “I lost the use of my leg and arm right at the same time.”
He was flown back to the United States for rehabilitation, and eventually decided to enroll in college, something he had always known he would do after high school.
Strobino eventually completed all his courses in 2013, but between working full time, commuting an hour to class every day and having trouble submitting the final paperwork, he couldn’t quite figure out how to officially complete his studies.
Eventually, he was in touch with the Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veteran program at his school that helped him figure out his last steps.
“In one day everything that I was stressing out about for years was taken care of,” Strobino said.
He said he now plans to give back to the program that helped him figure it all out.