Curry selected for USA Today All-USA Academic First Team

David Curry, 27, was selected from over 1500 students to eventually end up on the All-USA team. (courtesy of D. Curry)

MaryAnne Shults

Ex-Marine David Curry, 27, comes across as a motivated individual. He has to be—he survived two tours of active duty in Iraq. After returning to civilian life, he headed to Saddleback College. He has now graduated with a 3.83 GPA, and several accolades that testify to his exemplary character.

These accomplishments have been recognized. Curry was recently selected as a member of the All-USA Academic First Team for Community Colleges by sponsors “USA Today” and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. He was one of only 20 students chosen from a pool of approximately 1,500 applicants from 800 community colleges across the United States.

“David is an outstanding student with an admirable commitment to community service,” Saddleback College President Tod Burnett said. “His military service and his academic achievement have made our Saddleback family proud.”

Curry was awarded several scholarships as a result of being chosen for both the state and national teams, as well as receiving a Guistwhite Scholarship through the honor society’s foundation.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was hoping maybe I’d get one scholarship at the state level,” Curry said. “I didn’t really anticipate being a national-level scholar. It’s just how it panned out.”

Initially nominated by Paul Polloczek, the advisor of Saddleback’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, and by Saddleback president Tod Burnett, Curry was selected for the All-California Academic First Team. Subsequently, he was nominated and selected for the All-USA team.

Curry’s experiences led him to his current goal of completing his bachelor’s degree; he is currently attending the University of California, Irvine. After completing his bachelor’s degree, Curry plans to go to law school and obtain an advanced degree in sociology.
He came from a humble beginning. In June 1999, two days after graduating from high school in a small town on the Florida panhandle, Curry left for basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in South Carolina. After completing his infantry training, he was ordered to Camp Pendleton. He intended to be finished with his four-year enlistment in June 2003, but that didn’t happen.

“The military put a freeze on people getting out in 2003 to be able to maintain enough troops to conduct the initial phase of the war,” Curry said. “I ended up going to Iraq on the tail end of my tour of duty.”

He returned to Camp Pendleton, his first enlistment completed, and briefly attended Palomar Community College. However, he was recalled back to active duty at the end of May 2004, and once again was deployed to Iraq. His second tour would last until spring 2005.

“I saw a lot more stuff my second time in Iraq,” Curry said. “Some of my buddies got injured or killed and it changed my perspective on life.”

After the end of his second set of orders, Curry continued his education at Saddleback. He became involved in campus activities, playing on the football team and participating in honor societies and student government.

While he was an Associated Student Government senator, Curry was approached by David Johnson from the Office of Student Development approached Curry about starting a veteran’s outreach program, and sought advice from Curry.

“I shared a veteran’s perspective of some of the challenges of transitioning out,” Curry said. “I [was deployed to Iraq] a second time and didn’t want others to make the same mistakes that Iraqi veterans make. I laid it out from a student’s perspective so it makes sense to [the veteran’s outreach committee]. They offered me a position in the veteran’s outreach program.”

This sharing of time and talent has helped broaden Curry’s character. He volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, Orange County Special Olympics, and Project Aware. He also helped last summer building homes for severely wounded disabled veterans and their families at Habitat for Heroes in San Juan Capistrano.

For those who’ve put their lives on the line defending America, and are now facing what can often be a difficult transition, Saddleback is now providing guidance. Today, thanks to the insight of David Curry, veterans attending Saddleback College find the support, assistance, and empathy they need.

BEST OF THE BEST (Courtesy of D. Curry)