CSN alumnus gets second master’s at Yale

As the Clark County School District prepares to go through thousands of applications to hire 1,700 new teachers before the fall, Reuben D’Silva’s ought to stand out.

The 28-year-old Marine, who received the Purple Heart after being injured in battle, will graduate this May with his second master’s degree from Yale. His first, which he finished in one academic year, was from another Ivy League member, the University of Pennsylvania.

But that’s not why.

D’Silva has already received solicitations from some of the finer private schools in New Haven and he has been encouraged to pursue a job with the United Nations.

That’s not why either.

D’Silva’s passion for education and sense of community are so evident in his still young life that his resume reads like a novel, featuring a super smart and — did we mention also humble — superhero.

“I love Nevada. I love my home,” he said in a recent interview from Yale. “What I feel in my heart is to come back to Las Vegas and try to get a job in the school district. There are no guarantees.”

His story begins in Bombay, India, where he was born and lived one year before his parents moved the family to the United States for economic opportunities.

If his application is successful to get hired as a social studies teacher, D’Silva will join his mother in the Clark County School District, where she teaches second grade at Tom Williams Elementary School.

A graduate of Rancho High School, D’Silva grew up in Las Vegas.

Carlos Ezeta, a soccer coach, counselor and teacher at Rancho at the time, recalled how active D’Silva was in high school, where he coached him in soccer and taught all of the D’Silva children.

“I recall his amazing ability to adapt and integrate himself into any challenge, whether it was a rough strenuous physical practice or mental preparedness. Reuben always did his duties with a smile,” said Ezeta, who has known D’Silva for 14 years.

Ezeta became a counselor at the College of Southern Nevada, where D’Silva enrolled after high school. He had applied to colleges around the nation, but none provided enough financial aid . Rather than take out loans and get into debt, he went local.

“I am really happy I went to CSN as opposed to going straight into a four-year school,” he said. “It helped me hone my academic skills. I really wasn’t ready when I first got out of high school.”

At CSN, he was surrounded by high school friends, faculty who cared about him and Ezeta, his counselor with whom he still keeps in touch.

“His capacity to comprehend things fast and easy made his presence at CSN electric and illuminated for other students,” Ezeta said. “CSN was a stepping stone to Yale or anywhere Reuben wanted to go.”

“And by the way, he got accepted to multiple Ivy Leagues,” Ezeta added with pride.

From CSN, where he spent two years and graduated with his Associate of Arts in December of 2005, D’Silva transferred to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Along the way, he joined the U.S. Marine Reserves, even though he was not a U.S. citizen, out of a sense of obligation to give back to a country that had given him so much.

He met Marcos Ibarra, a fellow UNLV student, in training with the 6th Motor Transport Battalion in 2005 and they’ve been close friends ever since.

“We pledged fraternity at the same time, and that brought us closer,” D’Silva said. “We were learning the Greek alphabet together during training. We’ve been friends ever since.”

In February 2007, D’Silva and Ibarra, who now works for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Las Vegas, were stationed in Iraq.

Several months later, they were driving a truckload of bottled water as part of a supply convoy through the city of Fallujah. D’Silva was manning the turret gun on top of the vehicle. Ibarra was three cars behind him and did not see the sniper emerge from a nearby apartment window.

The shooter yelled at D’Silva in Arabic and began firing. A bullet struck D’Silva’s left arm, severing a nerve.

The typical military response would have been for D’Silva’s entire convey, including the truck with the grenade launcher, to return heavy, overwhelming, fire power on the sniper. But that didn’t happen.

“I shot back with my M-4 rifle in order to draw less attention,” he said. “If the Marine with the grenade launcher opened up on the building, he would have completely destroyed it. This would also mean that he would more than likely kill everyone inside.”

In fact, Ibarra and others were unaware that D’Silva had been shot. Electronic counter measures used to protect each vehicle against improvised explosive devices had blocked their radio signals and made communication between vehicles nearly impossible as they moved slowly through the city.

When Ibarra’s vehicle pulled up to D’Silva’s truck outside of Falluja, Ibarra first noticed the blood.

“At the time, I didn’t know where he had been shot, and I, along with my fellow Marines, were furious. It’s not every day one of your own is shot, and it puts everything into perspective,” Ibarra said. “I think I came to grips with my mortality on that night. Reuben was swiftly transferred to a HMMV (high mobility military vehicle) because it moved faster to the base hospital. It was the last time I saw Reuben until we came back stateside.”

D’Silva was transported by medevac helicopter to a hospital in Iraq where he spent a few days. “There were 80 of us. They had us stacked up in little beds. This was in the middle of the surge, and we had had a tremendous spike in casualties at the time.”

Even so, D’Silva recalled feeling sadness about leaving Iraq without his platoon. “They were my only family there. I did not want to leave my boys.”

He was taken to the Bob Wilson Naval Hospital in San Diego, where he spent the next year recovering and trying to move the fingers on his left hand.

“My arm was totally disabled. I still don’t have full use of my hand; but I’m now able to function, and they didn’t have to take my arm off,” he said.

D’Silva received a Purple Heart for his bravery and was naturalized as a U.S. citizen later that year at Nellis Air Force Base.

In 2008, he came back to UNLV to complete his degree in history.

“I really tried to be involved and just enjoy being home and a real college student instead of being at war,” he said.

D’Silva graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 2010 and wanted to apply with the school district. But in the height of the great recession, he did not like his odds of being hired to teach social studies.

So he looked into getting his master’s degree and applied to various programs throughout the country. Columbia University was his first choice. He wanted to study with professor Eric Foner, whose most recent book, “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery,” won the Pulitzer, Bancroft and Lincoln prizes in 2011.

D’Silva got in.

But — always practical — he found the cost-of-living in New York City less than desirable. So he went to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

He was in his first few months of studying globalization and religion when he realized Yale professors were producing most of the research he was studying and Yale was where he really needed to be.

So, D’Silva wrapped up the two-year master’s degree in nine months, applied to Yale, got in and will graduate this month with a Master of Arts in religion.

At Yale, D’Silva has taken classes by world leaders, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair and recently retired Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker. D’Silva has been mentored by Yale professor of aerospace studies Col. Scott Manning and Dr. Elijah Anderson, a sociology professor and one of the nation’s leading urban ethnographers and cultural theorists.

Now, he’s ready to come home.

Some have called him “stupid” for not taking advantage of the networks he has built at Yale and urged him to pursue a career with the United Nations in policy analysis.

“I just don’t feel it in my heart,” he said. “And I don’t think I would make as much of a difference as I can if I come back to Las Vegas and taught in the inner city where I grew up. I think that would be really great.”

Vegas Homeless Remembered
Las Vegas vigil remembers 179 homeless people who died over the past year in Clark County. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A look inside Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory
Tesla's Gigafactory east of Reno produces the batteries that fuel the company's electric cars. Production has created more than 7,000 jobs, and the campus that includes one of the largest buildings in the world is expected to triple in size by the time it is completed. Tesla Vice President Chris Lister leads a tour of the facility. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garnet Interchange Ribbon Cutting
The Nevada Department of Transportation celebrated the completion of the $63 million I-15-US 93 Garnet Interchange project. The project includes a modified diverging diamond interchange and a 5-mile widening of US 93.
State Foresters Hunt for Record Trees
Urban foresters from the Nevada Division of Forestry hunt for record setting trees.
Rick Davidson directs NFR satellite feed
Rick Davidson directs the Wrangler NFR's live satellite feed from a production trailer outside the Thomas & Mack Center. (Patrick Everson)
Scott Boras, Bryce Harper's agent, speaks to media at baseball's winter meetings
Baseball agent Scott Boras updates media on the contract negotiations of his client Bryce Harper during baseball's winter meetings at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 12, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Achievement School District
The achievement district faced strong opposition from traditional schools back in its beginnings in 2016. But with schools like Nevada Rise and Nevada Prep, it's slowly and steadily growing. Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fresno State QB on record-breaking receiver
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion talks record-setting receiver KeeSean Johnson. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The annual 'Shop with a Cop' event at Target
This year’s "Shop with a Cop" event gave about 40 children the chance to shop at Target alongside a North Las Vegas Police officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Bizutesfaye
Melvin Dummar dead at 74
Melvin Dummar has died at 74. Dummar was famous for claiming to have saved Howard Hughes in a Nevada desert in 1967. Dummar claimed to have been left $156 million in Hughes’ will. The will mysteriously appeared after Hughes’ death in 1976. It was dismissed as a fake two years later. Dummar never saw a dime of the billionaire's fortune. Dummar died Saturday in Nye County.
Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
Las Vegans Celebrate Big Snowfall
Las Vegans celebrate big snowfall at Lee Canyon.
Exploring old mines for denim jeans and other vintage items
Caden Gould of Genoa, Nev. talks about his experiences looking for vintage denim jeans and other items in old mines and other places areas across Nevada and the west.
Officers share photo of dead gunman after Las Vegas shooting
A little over an hour after SWAT officers entered Stephen Paddock's suite at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas police officers far from the scene were already sharing cell phone photos of the dead Oct. 1 gunman.
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like