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NEWS | Nov. 7, 2016

Facing adversity: a Soldier’s journey

By Spc. Tynisha Daniel 108th Training Command- Initial Entry Training

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere,” - Frank A. Clark

Facing adversity is a part of life. Reginald Des’Ravines, or Reggie as he goes by can attest to that. On Thursday, Oct. 27 his years’ worth of dedication, hard work and sleepless nights, all paid off when he received a ‘Dream day’ experience he will never forget.

The start of his day began with multiple surprises at Johnson and Wales University; including a VIP shopping experience at Sur La Table, an exclusive interview with WCNC NBC news, and the opportunity to prepare a menu and serve distinguished guests alongside Chef Greg Zanitsch at the Fig Tree Restaurant, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“I was totally surprised by this (dream day experience),” said Reggie who had no idea of the all the love, support and recognition he would receive, “Its’ definitely motivated me.”

Nominated by Melinda Law, Communications and Media Relations director at JWU. Reggie deservingly received the ‘Dream day’ experience through the help of WCNC NBC Charlotte news and sponsors.  “I can’t imagine the adversity that he has gone through, but because he asked for help he’s gotten it,” said Law. When initially hearing Reggie’s story Law was inspired and immediately felt the need to recommend Reggie for the ‘Dream day.’

But his path wasn’t free of obstacles.

Before enlisting in the Army in 2008, Reggie lived homeless on the streets of North Miami doing what he could every day to survive. “At 16/17 years old my home life wasn’t the best, (I was) constantly getting kicked out of the house. One day I got kicked out and stayed out,” he said. It wasn’t until he joined the estimated 600,000 homeless Americans that he realized his life needed to take a serious turn. Joining the Army was his first step.

“It’s easy for the streets to catch you, I came to the realization that my life wasn’t going to go far if I kept living day to day, I had to plan for a future.” he explained. Not knowing where his next meal would come from or where he would lay his head at night was not ideal.  

After enlisting, Reggie became a Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic (63B) stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It was during his time served and with the encouragement of his sister and friends that he decided to pursue his passion in culinary arts.

“Whenever we would get together (Reggie and friends) I was always the one cooking, not because I had to, I wanted to,” said Reggie.  

Fast forward 8 years, as a single parent and devoted father of two boys, he now has an Associate degree in Culinary Arts and works as a sous chef. Though challenging, the significant changes he made in his life have not gone unnoticed. “I feel blessed,” exclaimed Reggie. “You work so hard and think no one cares or notices and then things like this happen.”

As a full time father, student, sous chef, and provider, he sets an example to his peers and children by doing homework and studying together. Reggie has found a rhythm in life. He faces and conquers his challenges head on.

“He deserves all of this,” said Law during her interview with WCNC NBC news anchor Beth Troutman. “As a non-traditional student even the younger traditional students look up to him.”

Reggie’s ‘Dream Day’ awarded him with the motivation to continue his education toward obtaining his bachelor’s degree. “My intentions are to succeed and bring people with me in doing it,” he said. With a goal of one day opening his own upscale Caribbean Restaurant and being granted this experience, the Veteran has been uplifted in ways not even he could fully describe. “I’ve made an impact and I want to continue to do it,” he said.

The reality of facing adversity in life is a given, but taking advantage of the growth and learning experiences one can gain during the adversity is what makes life worthwhile, just ask Reggie.

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