Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Shukla Defines Determination

Story and photo by Vernetta Garcia

Army Reserve Spc. Mahesh Shukla

Army Reserve Spc. Mahesh Shukla is the definition of determination; being resolute; firmness of purpose; a fixed intention. Because of his single-mindedness, he is now another step closer to his dream of serving as a Military Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Army. “This is the only country in the world where you can do anything, if you’re willing to work hard and stay with it” Shukla said. The 33-year-old, husband, and father of three, recently enlisted in the Army Reserve as a 35F, military intelligence analyst.  “I was very impressed with him when we met; he was committed to accomplishing this goal,” said his Recruiter Sgt. 1st Class Mary Sastre. She is an Army Reserve Recruiter, currently working at the Army Recruiting School at Fort Knox, Ky.

Shukla started basic training Mar. 1 at Fort Sill, Okla. Next, he will then attend advanced individual training for 17 weeks at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. Then he will be join his unit, 345th Military Intelligence Battalion at Fort Gordon, Ga., to work and complete his packet for Officer Cadet School. Shukla speaks five languages and is currently the chief of biomedical engineering with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Columbia, S.C. “I believe I have a lot to offer and looking forward to serving,” said Shukla. “Nothing is impossible if you stay with it.”

Born in India, he left home at the age of 15 to get an education. He worked his way through school as a tutor of chemistry, physics, and math. He often told those he tutored that “one day I’ll be an American, they would just laugh, because I was so poor, but now I am here,” Shukla said.  “This is the land of opportunity, you can become anything.”

He came to the United States in 2008 and faced numerous challenges when he first tried to join the Army in 2011. First hurdle was citizenship, he became a citizen in 2012. His foreign college transcripts had to be translated and although he obtained a degree in biomedical engineering in India, he still required additional college core credits.  With support of his wife, Melissa Houghton-Shukla, he says he was able to overcome each challenge. “Without her I couldn’t accomplish anything, she is very supportive—she takes care of the home and gives me lots of space to accomplish my studies and pursue my goals,” Shukla said.  

Although he still faces challenges, being apart from his family and possible deployments, he is eager to start this next chapter of life in the Army. “I want to do something for this country that has done so much for me; I want to be a good example for my kids,” Shukla stated.
 “I believe Spc. Shukla will make an outstanding Soldier due to his perseverance and commitment to making his family proud and to give back to this country,” Sastre said. “I wish him a lifetime of success and a career that can motivate and inspire others in the future.”

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