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2012 Florida Commencement

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Published on May 23, 2012

Northwood University Florida's inspirational commencement speech delivered by Congressman Allen West.

Born and raised in Atlanta, West is the third of four generations of military servicemen. His parents instilled in him the value of education along with the love for God and country. "Education is the great equalizer," he stated. "With a good education, any child in America can live their dream."

West, who was awarded Northwood University's honorary doctorate at the ceremony, is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel knows that for children to be able to pursue their dreams, they need to be safe. Toward that effort, he has served in several combat zones including Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he was battalion commander for the Army's 4th Infantry Division, and in Afghanistan, where he trained Afghan officers to take on the responsibility of securing their own country.

In 2004, when it was time to retire from more than twenty years of service in the US Army, he brought his wife and two young daughters to Broward County, Florida, where he taught high school for one year. He then returned to Afghanistan as an advisor to the Afghan army, an assignment he finished in November 2007.

West received his Bachelor's degree from University of Tennessee and his Master's degree from Kansas State University, both in political science. He also holds a Master of Military Arts and Sciences from the US Army Command and General Staff Officer College in political theory and military operations.

He has been honored several times throughout his military career with awards including a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals (one with Valor), and a Valorous Unit Award. He received his valor award as a Captain in Desert Shield/Storm, was the US Army ROTC Instructor of the Year in 1993, and was a Distinguished Honor Graduate III Corps Assault School. He proudly wears the Army Master Parachutist, German Proficiency, and Air Assault badges along with th. Navy/Marine Corps parachutist insignia and Italian parachutist wings.

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