Dustin is a man ahead of his time. At the age of just 23, he was an Army Ranger in command of a platoon of 44 soldiers. It was the first time in his life that he felt a sense of responsibility for something greater than himself. The personal obligation he felt for his platoon instilled in him a commitment to be the best leader that he could. Dustin worked diligently to become a competent infantry platoon leader and to get to know each of his soldiers on a personal level.
The sense of purpose and fellowship that he shared with his platoon was the first of many transformative experiences he encountered in the Army. Dustin says these experiences affirmed his commitment to a life of service and helped him discover a passion for international development.
By 2008, he was the executive officer of a nine-man transition team tasked to train an Iraqi infantry unit to operate independently. In this role, Dustin oversaw a small business micro-grant program designed to bolster the local economy. His role was to teach community members how to fill out business proposal forms and he says he was struck by a profound sense of personal satisfaction. He was an infantry officer, not fighting, but advising people on how to start a small business. He saw firsthand that economic growth is essential for reducing poverty and lessening the tensions that can feed conflict.
Dustin eventually plans to combine the leadership lessons he learned in the Army with his passion for development to impact international development in national security.