The road to college graduation has literally been fraught with war for Ahmed Dorghoud. Now, as a Marine Reservist during a lull in troop deployment, Dorghoud’s ready for spring’s Commencement.
When senior criminal justice student and Monks lacrosse player Ahmed Dorghoud moved with his family from Cairo, Egypt, to Alexandria, Virginia, in 1999, ROTC instantly became a part of his high-school career. And just two weeks after graduation, “I was at boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina,” Dorghoud says. There he was, Private First Class Dorghoud, a U.S. Marine Reservist. It was 2005.
As a Marine, Dorghoud’s skills would be called upon for service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, these deployments came at a time when he was also trying his hand as a college student.
“I actually went to school a couple times before Saint Joseph’s,” Dorghoud says. “I went to school in West Virginia for one semester, and then I got the call to go to Iraq. The second time I went to college was in Virginia for a year, and before the year ended I got the call to go to Afghanistan.” In all, he spent nearly a year on the ground in the Middle East.
In the midst of the other colleges and active deployments, Dorghoud slowly but surely came to know of Saint Joseph’s College. “When I came back from Iraq in 2007, I coached lacrosse where I went to high school,” he says. “That’s where I met [former lacrosse coach] Mike Edgar. We stayed friends and in contact. He was on me every year to come up to play for Saint Joseph’s.
“When I came back from Afghanistan, he called me up and said ‘Welcome back,’ and asked that I play lacrosse for him. I filled out the paperwork, and I started here in the spring of 2011.”
How did it feel to now be in Maine, far from combat and the Mid-Atlantic states? “It was different,” Dorghoud says. “Especially with my background, what I’ve been through, even living in the hustle and bustle of northern Virginia. In Maine everything is so quiet. It was different, and it’s still different.”
Fortunately, Saint Joseph’s is a good home for someone with a background like Dorghoud. “I met John Quinn ’12. He was former Army. We met in a criminal justice class and clicked right away. He’d been through a lot of the same experiences I had.”
Dorghoud also serves as a source of information for current students interested in enlisting. “They come up saying they have ideas for this or that. I try to guide them, push them…to go be an officer. I tell it as it is. I tell them the truth.”
Before coming to Saint Joseph’s as a lacrosse student-athlete, Ahmed Dorghoud spent nearly a year between deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now a sergeant in the Marine Reserves, Dorghoud understands the truth of being a student and a reservist. “They are able to call me and say ‘You gotta go.’ There’s always that possibility. Especially with the infantry unit, there’s always the possibility of deploying. I came back from Afghanistan almost four years ago, and you train every day like you’re leaving tomorrow.”
When he’s in class, Dorghoud is always balancing that notion – of being a student today and being on active deployment tomorrow. “There’s school, papers, lacrosse, the workouts and the military stuff. I go to training one weekend every month in Maryland, but there’s also paperwork, and I have to call a lot of people all the time. You just have to balance it out.”
And then there are the memories: “Sometimes I think about my deployments. It’s part of you, especially when you’ve done the dirty work, walking around, talking to people, getting into firefights.”
Luckily, that balancing of responsibilities and experiences runs deeps in Dorghoud’s academics. “I like how my professors all have experience in the criminal justice field,” he says. “Like Linda Barker, she’s a police officer in South Portland. She brings real-life experience into the classroom. And Dale Brooker was a member of the Public Safety Committee in the city of Westbrook. He’s involved in the field.”
When Dorghoud graduates this spring, he has a bright future ahead. Now eight and a half years as a Marine Reservist and a soon-to-be college graduate, he wants “to work in law enforcement, hopefully in the Virginia or D.C. area.” Service, it appears, will always be at the core of Ahmed Dorghoud.