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Blake Center
Name: Blake Center
Residence: Fort Mill, S.C.

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Blake Center knows about hard work and sacrifice. The 27-year-old environmental sciences major and Army National Guard member put his college plans on hold in order to complete two combat tours in Afghanistan. His time overseas taught him discipline, hard work and compassion.

“I have a new appreciation for our way of life in the United States. Having lived in Afghanistan in a mud hut with no electricity and no running water, I fully understand how lucky I am to be able to go to college. Having seen what others endure just to make it day-to-day makes me appreciate my opportunities,” said Center, who serves as a combat engineer.

His military benefits, including the GI Bill, have covered a majority of his tuition and expenses.

Working toward a bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences made sense to Center, a Rock Hill native, as he loves being outdoors and working with children. “I wanted to teach without grading papers,” he added.

He sought out an internship with the city of Rock Hill’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism department and that evolved into a paid position. “I lead kayaking trips down the Catawba River and I also teach environmental education to elementary students and high schoolers. We teach them about water quality, animal habitats, mapping and lots more,” said Center. “It’s a really great job that involves my two passions – the outdoors and teaching.”

Last updated: 05/16/2013

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