By Lorie Hailey
Family and friends of a fallen soldier gathered Friday for what Dean David Blackwell called a “solemn, yet joyous occasion,” as a career management center at the University of Kentucky was dedicated to the soldier’s memory.
U.S. Army Major General Mark Graham and his wife Carol spoke at the dedication ceremony of the Graham Office of Career Management, which was named for their son, 2nd Lt. Jeffrey C. Graham.
A 2003 graduate of the UK College of Engineering and UK’s Army ROTC program, 2nd Lt. Graham had planned to use the skills he learned at the Lexington university to help the people of Iraq rebuild their country. He expressed that wish to his father just weeks before his death in 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Major General Graham said Friday.
2nd Lt. Graham is credited with saving numerous lives by the actions at the time of the incident that took his life. He was leading a group of 18 soldiers, an Iraqi translator and an Iraqi policeman when he spotted an improvised explosive device taped to a guardrail. He put his hand out to stop the others who were walking in single file behind him. The bomb detonated, killing 2nd Lt. Graham and three others.
An anonymous UK donor, a Gatton College Alumni Hall of Fame member inspired by the soldier’s story, wanted to honor his legacy in a meaningful, practical and ongoing way, according to a press release from UK.
The Graham Office of Career Management in UK’s Gatton College of Business and Economics is a suite of offices on the second floor that has been completely renovated and newly furnished as an office to assist students in their career development process and employment success.
The office is “a critical piece in helping us take our college to the next level in terms of national and international competitiveness,” Blackwell said. “The Graham Office will directly benefit our students, our alumni and employers seeking to hire our graduates.”
2nd Lt. Graham was “truly a hero,” the dean said.
“He was taken from us much too early, but we appreciate his sacrifice and the sacrifice of his family,” Blackwell said. “His sacrifice is representative of the many, many others (who have lost their lives). This dedication is representative of an honor we bestow on all of them.”
The Graham Office has been in operation since August, but it moved into its new office suite in January, said Director Sally Foster. It offers customized services, extensive interview preparation, career counseling and resume review for students and alumni.
Carol Graham said it is tragic that her son’s dreams were cut short, but knowing that the center named for him would help other UK students see their dreams to fruition helps the family deal with its grief.
“The best thing about today’s dedication is the good that will come from this office goes so far beyond Jeffrey,” she said. “Having a place like this that will help so many people as they take that next step in their lives and careers shows great foresight by the Gatton College and the university.”
For more information about the Graham Office of Career Management, visit gatton.uky.edu/career/.
To learn more about 2nd Lt. Graham, visit grahammemorial.com/Jeffrey.htm.