Veteran and social sciences alumnus Aaron Anderson knows how to thrive no matter what life throws his way
In an instant, Aaron Anderson’s entire world changed.
The Humvee transporting him and his Special Forces team through the Afghan desert was hit by an improvised explosive device, ejecting Anderson and his comrades from the vehicle.
“I knew what had happened almost immediately,” he says. “As I was suspended in the air, I didn’t know if I was going to survive.”
But he did. Despite the force from the blast and the subsequent gunfire, Anderson made it through that day in February 2006. He was seriously injured, but the realization that he was alive was a profound and life-altering moment.
The international studies alumnus and current MBA student at the University of California, Irvine has been sure to, in his words, “live as richly as possible” since then. Anderson founded the Green Beret Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Special Forces soldiers and their families. He was called out in President Barack Obama’s 2014 UCI commencement address and later discussed foreign policy and veterans’ issues with the commander in chief.
He married, started a family and now works on the trading floor at PIMCO, a global investment management firm. And though the path he’s taken is very different from anything he expected prior to that day in Afghanistan, the experience has motivated him to make the world a better place.
Anderson had been a rebellious Southern California teen – a far cry from the “quiet professionals” in the Army Special Forces. Family issues, including a less-than-present father and a mother who was battling cancer, led to misbehavior, and he was kicked out of the house.
“It was tough love, but I think it was the best thing she – as a single mother – could have done for me,” Anderson says. “If she hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t be the man I am today. I wouldn’t have had to chart a different course.”
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