PARKERSBURG, W.Va., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Former Iraq prisoner of war Jessica Lynch, who joined the Army a decade ago so she could pay for college, is about to graduate from West Virginia University.
Jessica Lynch, a native of rural Wirt County, W.Va., who entered college in hopes of teaching kindergarten, will receive a degree in education Friday from WVU, Parkersburg, The Charleston Gazette reported.
"I worked so hard to get to this point and it's finally here," Lynch said. "It hasn't always been easy. There have definitely been ups and downs."
Lynch, a private first class, was part of a convoy of the 507th Maintenance Company, which was ambushed near Nasiriyah March 23, 2003, after taking a wrong turn and wrecking.
Eleven soldiers died in the attack. U.S. forces rescued Lynch April 1, 2003, at a Nasiriyah hospital.
Lynch's spine was broken in two places, causing serious abdominal complications, and her left leg was shattered above and below the knee, causing nerve damage that left her with no feeling in the leg. Her right arm was shattered between her shoulder and elbow, rendering her right hand nearly useless.
In the past eight years, she has had 21 surgeries and has participated in physical therapy while studying at WVU since 2006.
Lynch, who has been a student teacher for first and fifth graders the past five months, will be the first in her family to graduate from college and plans to go to graduate school at WVU, Parkersburg, in the fall.
"I didn't want anything handed to me. I wanted to work just as hard as anyone else, and I think I have," she said. "I stayed up late doing papers and midterms. ... So, I'm thankful now that it's over."