Former RCC student has a future beyond the sky

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By Monique Berduo / Staff Writer

In 2005 Justin Brooks Wiley graduated from King High School with a steady 2.0 grade point average and later moved on to complete his last semester at Riverside City College in 2006.

Justin, 25, was granted the honor to take the F/A-18 Hornet, a fighter aircraft with the flyaway cost of over $65 million, for a solo flight as part of his Naval Aviation training.

Justin’s father, RCC Spanish professor and track coach Duverick Wiley, recalls how his son has always dreamt of flying ever since he was a toddler.

Duverick’s brother, Ron Wiley, helped spark this lifelong passion of Justin’s when he decided to give both Duverick and Justin a tour of an aircraft on his Navy base.

“(Ron) took Justin and myself, and grabbed the keys off the wall to a $40 billion aircraft and basically just let the kid run all over inside,” Duverick said. “That was the start of the whole thing.”

Duverick remembers Justin being full of questions and remarks, and his brother Ron eager and willing to answer any of Justin’s questions.

The process of graduating high school below average, to rising up to fit the qualifications of your childhood dreams and passions is a life lesson that should inspire students in all fields of education, but especially those enrolled in community colleges.

It’s very common to find college students on campus who are either frustrated or discouraged with their current academic status at a community college, but this should serve as a testimony to students near and far that it is possible to make your dreams a reality; community colleges serve as a stepping stone to help get us there.

By the time Justin had graduated high school he managed to maintain a real average grade point average, in fact one of Duverick’s friends and former professor of Justin took the liberty of nicknaming Justin ‘Mr. Average.’

“I was not a stellar student. I think I graduated King with a 2.0, it was pretty bad,” Justin said. “I kinda realized when I got to RCC that I needed to step up my game a little bit, so I really started applying myself.”

Attending RCC helped Justin realize that in order to fulfill his dreams he needed to get his act together when it came to getting good grades and enrolling in the necessary programs such as the ROTC program.

Both Duverick and Justin agree that at this point when Justin enrolled in Riverside City College he was determined to get the necessary grades and take the next steps in becoming a Naval Aviator.

Like many students enrolled at RCC, Justin was mainly enrolled in general education classes such as English and mathematics.

“The quality of instructors I had at RCC far exceeded the instructors I had at the school I attended after; in terms of liberal arts, math, English and that kind of stuff. There were a lot of instructors at RCC that influenced my education,” Justin said.

When asked who or what helped Justin keep focus on his dreams he likes to credit not just his uncle Ron but his dad more than anyone.

“It’s a combination of people, but if someone held a gun to my head I’d have to say my dad. He’s one of the people I look up to the most, even now,” Justin said.

After close observation and interviews with both Justin and Duverick, one theme remains predominant and that it is the concept of dedication.

Justin and Duverick both agree that one of the toughest hurdles to overcome is to stay passionate and dedicated to your dreams, and not lose focus.

“Staying dedicated to one singular goal can be pretty difficult at times; you kind of get down in the weeds as far as day to day stuff, and lose sight of what your overall goal is sometimes,” Justin said.

Although through the power of being able to stay focused and consistently dedicated to the thing you desire most, you can accomplish just about anything.

“It’s one thing I like to anchor on, it that no matter what’s behind you if you really want to do something, it just takes hard work, dedication, and drive to get what you want,” Justin said. “I think that’s pretty cool, you could do anything really.”

Although Duverick recalls Justin failing Spanish class in high school, with a father who teaches the same exact course at a collegiate level, he later witnessed his son do much more than just pass his classes.

“He was selected as one of the Naval Air Training graduates with distinction because he did what many men never do and that’s sail through the Navy’s Jet Training School with a perfect score,” Duverick said.

Even through difficulties and hurdles Justin’s perseverance eventually helped him attain his innermost desires.

“Justin was able to keep that dream all the way through several hurdles, and it’s kind of an amazing story in that he never lost focuse on his goal, he never lost passion for it,” Duverick said. “And it seemed like every time someone told him ‘nah you can’t do that,’ he would say ‘yes I can,’ and work that much harder.”

Justin’s story serves as a perfect testimony for students today who are still dreaming and holding close to those passions they’ve developed over time.

Inspiration should be reinstated in the minds of students who have lost sight of what they want.

“For students who go to RCC, it’s a perfect example why we’re here at a community college which is to give students a shot at their dreams,” Duverick said. “‘What is your dream?’ Don’t lose it and keep fighting.”

Flying Tiger: Justin Wiley, a former Riverside City College student, is now the pilot for the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet, an expensive aircraft of the Navy’s. (Duverick Wiley / Special to Viewpoints)

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