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The Lake News Online
  • Northwest surprises Seabee with early diploma

  • When Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryce Webb leaves for deployment to Afghanistan today, he will do so with a little something extra on his service record — an acknowledgement that he has earned a college degree from Northwest Missouri State University.
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  • When Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryce Webb leaves for deployment to Afghanistan today, he will do so with a little something extra on his service record — an acknowledgement that he has earned a college degree from Northwest Missouri State University.
    Webb received his diploma Wednesday as the only graduate present during a hastily called ceremony organized when Northwest officials realized he wouldn't be able to attend regular winter commencement exercises on Dec. 14.
    Gina Bradley, who organizes special events for Northwest, said she realized Webb's predicament after contacting honors graduates about whether or not they planned to attend graduation, where they are to be singled out for recognition.
    "Bryce emailed back and said that actually, no, he couldn't attend because he was being deployed," Bradley said. "So I talked to Dr. J (Northwest President John Jasinski), and he decided that we had to do something."
    Since Webb had already completed all his course assignments and exams for the semester, the 29-year-old Navy Seabee was called in for what he understood was going to be a five-minute survey.
    Instead, he was hustled into a cap and gown, warmly greeted by Northwest Provost Doug Dunham and presented with his degree in horticulture.
    The beaming Webb, who grew up in Winterset, Iowa, couldn't stop smiling as he accepted congratulations from a small group of friends, faculty members and Northwest staff. There was even some top brass present. Among those attending was Professor Mark Corson, who is also a brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserve.
    "Words can't describe it," Webb said, clutching the Bearcat green diploma folder to his chest. "I'm going to call my mom as soon as I'm done here."
    Webb said he joined the Navy 12 years ago after graduating from high school and spent the next five years on active duty in California and Japan. Once on reserve status, he decided to start working toward his bachelor's degree in horticulture at Northwest.
    His original plan had been to graduate next week, then eventually head west to Oregon, where he wants to start a landscaping business. He said he knew he was likely to be called up, but thought the Navy would wait until he finished school.
    The Navy, as it turned out, had other plans, which Webb said was fine with him.
    "It's my job," he said of his military commitment. "You roll with the punches."
    Webb expects to be ashore in Afghanistan working on construction projects for at least a year.
    Though happy he's finished with school and proud to be returning to uniform, Webb said he will miss Northwest, which he said he chose over bigger schools in Iowa because of its small class sizes and small-town ambience.
    "I love this place. Absolutely," he said.
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