When I graduated college, I knew I wanted to serve somehow. I wanted to be of assistance to others and use any talents I may have to better the lives of other people. So initially I was a teacher. I did a program called Teach for America, which takes young adults and puts them in urban and rural school districts that frankly, need teachers and where the students need mentors. So I was in Jackson, Mississippi. I spent two years as a math teacher. The first year I taught geometry, the second year was ACT prep. And I loved it. I loved it, it wasn't too dissimilar from the job I have right now. Mentoring people, developing people, teaching people, being dad, brother, coach. That is what I loved the most. So after my time as a teacher I thought to myself, how can I continue this? I didn't wanna stay in the classroom. I wanted to do something different and I'd always had an interest in international relations and military strategy. So I thought the best course for me was to go to grad school and do ROTC. So I went to Columbia for two years. Got my Masters in International Security Policy and while I was there I did ROTC which is the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. There are three ways to become an officer. You can do ROTC in college or graduate school, you can go to the military academy at West Point. Or you can do something called Officer Candidate School. All three require you to go through college at that time or have a college degree and it's similar in the Air Force, the Navy, so those routes are the same. I decided to do ROTC. It was great, we PT'd, conducted physical training three days a week in the morning and then we'd have classes one day a week on organizational leadership and tactics and military training. After that, after I graduated from graduate school, I went immediately to basic officer leadership course where I learned how to be an Armor Officer. As an Armor Officer I went through basic officer leadership course which was roughly six months and then there are additional schools that we have to go to to meet certain qualifications and to be the best leader possible. One of those courses was the Army Reconnaissance Course. We have to be experts at land navigation. We have to be expert with and without any type of GPS device. We have to be experts on the reconnaissance skills which are area, route and zone reconnaissance. And we have to be experts on the threat that we may face and their capabilities. The course isn't easy. There were times during that course where we were wearing 80 pound rucks and we were getting very little sleep and very little food. But that's part of the training. That's what you have to overcome and for someone who signs up to be an officer in the army or someone who enlists in the army and if you pick a job in combat arms, that is what you're signing up for. You're signing up for a job that is more demanding than really anything else in the civilian sector and most jobs in the military as well. For an officer in the United States Army and I believe this applies to the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corp as well. There is a specific growth chart for you. There are certain jobs you will have at certain ranks and there are certain schools you will attend at certain ranks. Throughout a 20 year career you will train, get schooling, go into a job. Train, get schooling, go into a job. Train, get schooling, go into another job. That, the army ensures that at every level you receive the proper training, the proper education to be as good as possible in that job because our jobs demand so much. The army has 16 professions for an officer. You don't necessarily have to have a certain degree to fill one of those 16 professions. I had a bachelor's in international relations and economics and I had a masters in international security policy. So that drove me to be a combat arms office. However I could've just as easily been a medical services officer and the army would've taught me how to be a good officer. So the army doesn't necessarily look for a certain degree. It favors certain degrees. So STEM degrees are very important. Just as they are in the civilian sector. So if you are, have a background in science, technology, engineering or math they want those people. That's first and foremost, you have to have a good level of education. Secondly you have to be physically fit. You have to strive to max our PT test which consists of pushups, situps and a two mile run. You have to strive to be flexible and agile and not get hurt easily because that's what the Army needs and that's what the American people need from us. My best advice is to be a lifelong learner. You have to self educate. You have to read on your own. You have to train on your own because there are so many other responsibilities you have during the day. Some pitfalls would be being too self-involved. Yes, you have to look out for yourself and your own education but you also have to ensure that the livelihood of 30 to 40 other people is just as good as yours. So people sometimes go astray by just focusing on themselves too much. Being a leader in the United States Army means that sometimes your life is not as important as the lives of others. In fact, that's what it should, your life shouldn't be as important as the lives of others. Your soldiers' lives matter more and you wanna ensure that they get home at the end of the day, well fed, well trained, physically fit, mentally tough to their families.
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