Navy Corpsman Hailey Busby knew she wanted to join the military before she was out of high school, and had good motivation to do it. She didn’t know she would jump back into a college education in the process.
“I truly felt like the military was always such a good route,” she said, having had a grandmother who retired as a chief warrant officer in the United States Marine Corps after 23 years on active duty.
“Hearing my dad always talk about how proud he was of his mom made me want to have the same effect on my children one day,” she said.
Although her first thought was to join the Air Force (“they almost seemed less scary,” she said), her grandmother and father told her about the impact a corpsman has. She was sold and was scheduled for Military Entrance Processing before even graduating high school. Six months later, she entered boot camp, graduating in January 2017. Immediately she was sent to her “A” school for training and assigned to San Diego’s Naval Air Station North Island’s Branch Clinic.
It would be during this two-year assignment she both undertook her college education at the encouragement of more-senior sailors and met her Alabama-native husband-to-be, Marine Sgt. Joshua K. Busby, who eventually took her home to meet the family, which includes her TROY alumnus father-in-law Boyd Busby, executive director of the Alabama Board of Public Accountancy and his uncle, TROY Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr.
Meeting the two Trojans would change the course of her educational pursuits and lead her to become a Trojan. She completed her associate’s degree in general education in October, and has begun work toward an undergraduate degree in social work – all online and now from Okinawa, Japan.
“When I got (to Alabama), I met the most motivated and inspired man I will probably ever meet – Mr. Boyd Busby. He loved that I was in school, and even though I didn’t have a plan at the time, he always reminded me that I was doing more than most people,” she said. “After that trip, I decided I wanted to be a Trojan like “Uncle Jack,” my father-in-law and sister-in-law.
One of the issues she had with her school at the time was that her classes made her feel “disconnected from the school.”
“I think the most silent struggle I have faced is the toll online school takes on mental health. A lot of students won’t talk about it but sometimes you feel behind or disconnected from ‘real’ school,” she said. “Taking proctored exams is awkward as well, but you have to remind yourself why you’re doing it.”
Being full-time active duty presents its own set of challenges for students. Last year, Busby moved to Okinawa mid-semester. While the move reunited her with her husband, it created a time period when she didn’t have access to the internet to keep up with her studies. Her professors were eager to work with her to keep her caught up in classes, allowing her to make the transition.
“Another issue we have (in Japan) is being able to get textbook packages,” she said. It takes about three weeks to receive a regular package.
“I definitely had to get creative when I came to getting textbooks, but, luckily, most of my classes have offered interactive websites that serve as a textbook and a lot of the books are easy to find online,” she said.
Through the encouragement of her family of Trojans, and through the support to military students offered by the TROY family, Busby said the pursuit of the degree has changed her trajectory in life and career.
“TROY has opened such a bigger window in my life. I now know I would like to obtain my Bachelor’s in Social Work and, hopefully, commission as an officer in the U.S. Navy,” she said. “(In pursuing my education) I am showing up for myself and my future, and that’s all that matters. You really have to do it for you.”