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Alumnus Profile: James Sheehan, ’18

‘Ministering’ overseas as a member of the U.S. military

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Seeing others volunteer their time to create positive experiences for members of the Bridgewater State University community is what inspired James Sheehan to enlist in the United States Army. The 2018 graduate earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and today serves his country in Afghanistan.

“Experiencing such a culture of selflessness and compassion, I knew I had to give back and do my part to protect it so others can have the freedom to experience it themselves,” Sheehan said.

It might seem odd to compare serving in the military to volunteering at BSU, but Sheehan sees the parallels.

“It really struck me seeing so many other students volunteering so much of their time to run crazy fun events so that other students can enjoy them,” he said. “Without the sacrifice of their own fun, the BSU community probably wouldn’t be able to have so many fun events, so their selflessness is really the backbone of why I think BSU is so awesome.”

On a daily basis, Sheehan and his fellow soldiers work to keep their base safe and do their best to keep the Taliban in check. As an infantryman he is the front line of defense, working 80 hours each week on the airfield he is assigned to. To date, he has been involved in more than 85 combat missions.

While at BSU, Sheehan participated on the track team under Coach Al Blaisdell, who describes Sheehan as “incredibly kind and selfless.” His former coach isn’t surprised he enlisted.

“His teammates gravitated toward him and his presence, whether it be just joking around before practice or during a tough workout,” Blaisdell said. “James was the first to congratulate you on a great performance. The success of his teammates always seemed to be just as much as a priority as his own, if not more.”

Sheehan has equally kind things to say about his former coach.

“He taught us so much about discipline and hard work and doing the right thing even when no one is looking,” he said.

Because of these positive experiences, Sheehan encourages others to see for themselves what Bridgewater has to offer.

“The community has something for everyone. The teachers are truly invested in your welfare,” he said. “For anyone considering applying to BSU I’d tell them it’s the right choice.”

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