Miriam Chacon Boesch

Miriam Chacon Boesch is a PhD student in special education from Dell City, Texas.

Service then: An Army reservist since 1995, Miriam was deployed to Iraq in February 2007 — five months before her contract was due to end. She served as a medic and project purchasing officer with a civilian affairs company stationed in Baghdad. Her company was one of several providing humanitarian relief efforts to Iraqi citizens.

Service now: Miriam is active in three graduate student organizations, including serving as the graduate student representative from Purdue to the national Council for Exceptional Children.

All in a day’s work: With a security detail present, Miriam’s company would travel into the city to find out what items were needed by civilians, hospitals, schools, etc. — and then locate and distribute those supplies. When asked about the danger, she says, “Every day we would be rocketed and mortared, but you get used to it.”

Why the Army? The first time recruiters came to her high school, Miriam didn’t think too much about it. But on their second visit, she took a test and got serious. “I had to get my parents’ permission because I was only 17,” she says. “I told them that if they didn’t agree, I would just sign up as soon as I turned 18.”

The road to Purdue: After earning a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders at Texas Tech University, Miriam headed to Purdue upon a faculty member’s recommendation and an offer of an assistantship. She earned a master’s in special education in 2004 and expects to graduate with her PhD in May 2011.

In another life: She admits to wanting to be a veterinarian since high school. She also harbors a secret desire to be a gemologist or jewelry designer.

By Tammy Weaver-Stoike