We often come across JIU graduates and students whose stories inspire us. Ryan Job is the quintessential example as his is a story of courage, heroism, determination, and persistence. Job grew up in Issaquah, Washington where he dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot like his grandfather who fought in WW II. He worked part time to pay for flight lessons, earning his pilot’s license at age 17. After three years at the University of Washington, Job dropped out of school to follow his dreams and become a Navy SEAL. Upon passing the arduous SEAL test, he enlisted and was deployed to Iraq in 2006 as SEAL Team 3’s primary automatic gunman. Job displayed bravery and courage, often risking his own life to protect his teammates, and received numerous medals and awards for his work.
During a firefight in August 2006, Job’s machine gun was struck by a sniper bullet. Shrapnel from the projectile ripped into Job’s face, destroying his right eye and severing the optic nerves in his left eye. Job returned home where his then girlfriend, Kelly, was by his side when he learned that his injuries would leave him permanently blind. Job was determined, however, that he would not be disabled and decided “If I’m going to be blind, I’m going to be the best blind man there is.”
Always a determined young man, Job learned to live without sight, never complaining though the task was both emotionally and physically taxing. Ryan and Kelly married soon thereafter and moved to Phoenix. There Job was connected with the Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Foundation. The foundation, which assists armed-forces veterans who have been injured in battle, connected Job and his wife with housing and with the Jones International University School of Business. Job enrolled in JIU to finish the business degree he began at the University of Washington. He earned his degree and graduated with a 4.0 from JIU. In addition to pursuing his degree, Job also relearned to do many of the physical activities he once loved. He enjoyed hiking the trails around the mountains of Phoenix, climbed Mount Rainier and even participated in a triathlon. Further, Job became a spokesperson for the Sentinels of Freedom Foundation, and worked to help other wounded veterans transition back to civilian life.
Tragically, Ryan Job’s story ends too soon. While recovering from a reconstructive surgery on his face, Job died unexpectedly in September of 2009. Job is survived by his wife, child, siblings, and parents.
Though his life ended prematurely, Ryan Job is an excellent example of perseverance and determination. From childhood, through his time with the Navy SEALs, and in his civilian life following his tour of duty, Ryan showed that anything is possible with the right attitude. Ryan accomplished more in his 28 years than many achieve in an entire lifetime. He showed great enthusiasm for all life has to offer and never backed down from any challenge. His story is an inspiration to us all. We thank you for your Service, Ryan.