Local News: Show-Me Gold members balance college with military obligations (05/09/22)

Members of Show-Me Gold pose for a photo during the Veterans Day Ceremony hosted by the Office of Military Veterans Services.

Photo submitted by CPT Crystal Cecil-Seiver

The Show-Me Gold program offers Army National Guard students the opportunity to further their education as they prepare for Officer Candidate School (OCS). In the military, they learn valuable skills that prepare them for college and professional careers.

Staff Sergeant Phoenix Horrell is the NCO in charge/recruiter of the Show-Me Gold program. She said the “Gold” in the name stands for “Guard Officer Leadership Development.” Soldiers in the program have already enlisted and gone through basic training and advanced individual training (AIT). Instead of going to their unit for exercises, they attend exercises on campus.

There are currently 25 active applicants in the Show-Me Gold program. While soldiers are in the program, they cannot be deployed. Their tuition is 100% paid, and they receive a $3,000 scholarship, GI Bill benefits, and a monthly stipend. They live in the dorms for free. This allows students to focus on their school work without having to worry about tuition fees.

The soldiers train one weekend a month. Their exercise day begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. During this time, they prepare for the OCS by practicing weapons training, land navigation, and mission briefings. Twice a year, they have three-day exercises, during which they participate in field training exercises. Once a year, they hold an annual two-week tour that begins right after the spring semester ends.

“A really nice perk with the Gold program in terms of being in the military and going to college at the same time is that we’re still on campus here with them,” said said Horrell. “They come into our office every day to help them with anything, whether it’s finance, consulting services or military stuff; we are here to help.”

Specialist Shamima Sadiqullah’s Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) is Supply Specialist and she is a junior biomedical science major. She enlisted in the Army National Guard while still in high school. After the SCO, she plans to change her MOS to military intelligence to use the multiple languages ​​she speaks, including Farsi, Russian, English, Kazakh and Pashto, or become a military doctor. Eventually, she wants her MOS and civilian work to line up and hopes to become a cardiothoracic surgeon in the future. She said she appreciates the community offered by the Show-Me Gold program.

“Being a military student seems so daunting to a lot of people, but I think it’s so worth it,” Sadiqullah said. “Especially because the army teaches you a lot of new things that can be really useful during your studies. I feel like there are a lot of benefits to being in the military and going to college.

Specialist Jace Pulley’s MOS is infantry, and he is a sophomore criminal justice student participating in the Show-Me Gold program. He decided to go to college after visiting his brother at SEMO. After spring break this semester, he became an inside linebacker for the SEMO football team. He said he hopes to work for the Department of Homeland Security after graduating, and the program makes it easy for him to meet his academic responsibilities, as his professors agree to extend assignment due dates. he has military obligations.

“Most likely [the hardest part of being a military student in college is] just missing events,” Pulley said. “I am also involved in Greek Life. It was Greek week, and we had a big party at the end, and I couldn’t go, because we were doing exercises. I guess this part sucks because of the fear of missing out, but at the same time, that’s okay, because that’s what I signed up for.

Second-year criminal justice specialist Mia Hill’s MOS is transportation, and she also participates in the Show-Me Gold program. She joined the Army National Guard when she was a junior in high school. After college, she hopes to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but is open to other opportunities after SCO. She said the military helped her in her college career in many ways.

“I think that definitely helped me with delegation, being able to take something from command and talk to my chain of command,” Hill said. “It helped my organizational skills and played a very important role in my leadership skills. It allowed me to really show off. The Show-Me Gold program has opened up many opportunities to be a leader in the program and show others how to do it too.

Amanda Woods has been a military and veteran services officer at SEMO for eight years. Woods said there were about 350 military students attending SEMO, including branches of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. The Show-Me Gold program and area military units contribute to the military being the dominant branch on campus.

“I think one of the things people need to understand about military students is their resilience,” Woods said. “Our people have had experiences, training and education that other students, especially our traditional students, may not have had, and I think this provides a range of knowledge and wisdom that could be used in a classroom.”

To learn more about the Show-Me Gold program, visit their website.