Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

September 2014

Rogers State Brings Military Instruction Back to Campus After 40-Year Hiatus

RSU Army National Guard cadets.

Members of the inaugural Guard Officer Leadership Program at Rogers State University stand in front of the university’s iconic Prep Hall. The university has brought back military education to campus for the first time in more than four decades with the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s GOLD program.

After a more than 40-year absence, Rogers State University again has brought military instruction back to campus when the Oklahoma Army National Guard brought its Guard Officer Leadership Development (GOLD) program to campus this fall.

Eight Oklahoma Army National Guard soldiers make up the inaugural GOLD class that includes soldiers ranging in experience from a private who has been in the OKARNG for four months to a sergeant with 12 years of guard experience, including two combat tours. Upon completion of the GOLD Program, the soldiers would earn the rank of 2nd Lt. and become a commissioned officer in the Army National Guard.

RSU has a distinguished military history and operated as the Oklahoma Military Academy from 1919-71, graduating hundreds of cadets into the officer ranks of America's armed forces during that time. When the institution was transitioned into a community college in 1971, the military instruction was not part of the new curriculum.

OMA alumni were instrumental in working with university officials to “bring boots back to campus” through the Army National Guard’s officer program, which provides an opportunity for guardsmen to live and study on campus. The college curriculum includes academic leadership training built into the program, along with leadership labs, physical training and field training exercises that provide firsthand experience about leading others as an officer. RSU's program is the only such program in northeastern Oklahoma, and one of four in the state.

Spc. Jadica Piela is a senior biology major from Muskogee who transferred to RSU from Northeastern State University to participate in the GOLD program.

"I plan on applying to medical school and the Army's physician assistant program when I get closer to graduation," she said. "The academic and leadership training I'm receiving will be a big help advancing my career."

Piela also credits the opportunity to live on-campus and participate in more student activities as another draw of the GOLD program. She also gets to spend more time with her sister, Jianna, who plays on the Hillcat women's soccer team.

Sgt. Daniel Lazear had no plans to attend college when he graduated from high school more than a decade ago. The senior nursing major from Oilton joined the Oklahoma Army National Guard and has served two combat tours overseas, one in Iraq and the other in Kuwait.

Lazear later earned an associate degree in firefighting from Tulsa Community College before coming to RSU.

"The GOLD program really falls in line with my career plans," Lazear said. "The financial assistance as well as the leadership training I am receiving is helping me get where I want to go." Lazear plans to pursue a master's in nursing after graduating from RSU.

The leadership program is open to Army National Guard soldiers who attend RSU. Candidates can receive 100 percent of their college tuition paid, live on campus, develop leadership skills and accelerate their military career through their office commission.

Capt. Michael Mitchell serves as the Officer in Charge of the RSU GOLD program and RSU history and political science department head and professor Dr. Ken Hicks serves as the academic coordinator.

Soldiers who are part of the inaugural GOLD class at RSU are: Pvt. Logan Gear, a junior from Olive; Spc. Kalin Kaul, a freshman from Salina; Sgt. Daniel Lazear, a senior from Oilton; Spc. Levi Mosier, a freshman from Inola; Spc. Brent Munroe, a freshman from Orange County, Calif.; Spc. Jadica Piela, a senior from Muskogee; Spc. Jonathan Stewart, a sophomore from Collinsville; and Pvt. Jamie Tavares, a sophomore from Owasso.

An endowment for the program was created by OMA alumni, including the family of one of OMA's most decorated alumni, Lt. Col. Ed Ramsey, who was instrumental in the liberation of the Japanese-occupied Philippines during World War II. His widow, Dr. Raquel "Raqui" Ramsey, has worked with the OMA Alumni Association to create an endowment that honors her husband through its support of the leadership program.

For more information on the RSU GOLD Program, visit www.rsu.edu/GOLD.

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