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Antwain Dobbins

U.S. Army veteran finds a home at Motlow College

by Shane Levan, Staff Writer

Completing a college degree is a challenge for almost everyone who attempts it, including U.S. Army veteran Antwain Dobbins. He is currently working towards his associate of science degree at Motlow College after serving seven years in the U.S. Army, including two tours in Iraq.

Dobbins, who grew up in Bedford County and graduated from Shelbyville Central High School in 2000, finished his military service in 2011 and started going to college in Colorado, where he was once stationed. However, a couple of changes in his major and an unexpected family event interfered with the completion of his degree.

Antwain Dobbins "My uncle passed away last May, and I decided to come home and visit my family," said Dobbins. "Since I was already here, I decided to finish my degree at home, at Motlow.

"Motlow is the third college I've been to," he added. "There have been a lot of times I've wanted to quit, but I know in order to go further in life I need to complete this degree. I always used to say, 'I'll just find a job and do something else,' but now that I only have five classes left, I think I can do this."

Motlow is a long way from the places Dobbins has been. While he has visited and served in countries all over the world, being back home in middle Tennessee is the perfect setting for him right now. Dobbins has had a chance to 'catch his breath' while working towards his degree at Motlow.

"I feel like I've finally slowed down," he continued. "It's a nice transition and I have time to stop and smell the roses."

Slowing down is something Dobbins has not really done since graduating high school. He originally attended an art college in Atlanta but decided to join the Army because the military would help pay for his education.

"I loved it (art college), but I wasn't financially ready to go to school," said Dobbins. "I moved back home and worked as a teacher's assistant, but I still didn't have the money to go to college. In 2004 I decided to join the military.

"I was a human resource specialist," he continued. "Anything that was paperwork related, like bringing people in and out of the military, promotions, finances, etc., I did."

However, he soon discovered that the military was more than just a means to pay for school. His seven-year experience would completely alter his outlook on life.

"It changes you," he said. "It makes you look at the world differently, and you don't take the world for granted. The two times I was deployed I lost a couple of my friends and had a couple of close calls myself. Some people don't get to come home."

Dobbins did come home and has finally had a chance to relax.

"I grew up in a small town, and for the past 10 years my life has been at 150 miles an hour," said Dobbins. "I went to Fort Jackson, I went to Germany, I deployed, I went to Oklahoma, I went to Colorado, and then deployed again before coming back.

"While working in the military can be like a normal nine-to-five job when you're not deployed, it's still stressful," he continued. "Doing my job in Iraq was constant, nonstop working and you don't really ever get a day off."

Not only has Motlow helped Dobbins slow down, but it has helped his personal transition away from the Army. While adjusting to civilian life is difficult for any soldier, being in an environment around 18 and 19 year-old students without common life experience can be especially difficult. Rejoining a community of people after so many years away is often a struggle for soldiers.

"It is hard for me to fit in, but the teachers help," said Dobbins. "Sometimes I feel out of place because I'm older and I've been all around the world. The professors really help because I can relate to them, and I've formed friendships with many teachers here. I talk to them a lot."

As difficult as post-military life can be, Dobbins understands the importance of having a degree and remembers the lessons he learned from his experiences overseas. Not taking his own life for granted, he has dedicated himself to completing his degree in order to advance his career.

Upon graduation from Motlow, his plans are wide open. He has many goals in life and knows that finishing his degree is the first step toward achieving them. With his military duty now behind him, Antwain Dobbins is ready to face every challenge that lies ahead.