Military students find balance

Logan Wetzel


While many students spent their summers working part-time or visiting the beach, students in the military had a much different agenda.

When Lance Cpl. Jack LaBrant, freshman business marketing major from Troy, completed Marine Corps boot camp on March 31, he had two priorities on his mind: going to job school at Camp Pendleton in California and attending Troy University.

“The Reserves are about balancing a civilian life and a military life,” said the Marine lance corporal reservist. “If I were active duty, this would be my full-time job.”

LaBrant said his time at boot camp helped prepare him not only for his military duties, but also for student life at Troy. He said he enjoys serving as a campus resident assistant.

“Like the Marines, my RA position helps me put other students first before my own needs, which I would always do in a situation where it is needed,” he said.

LaBrant said the transition from serving in the Marine Corps to Troy has been a stark one.

“As Marines, we were trained to be warriors very aggressively,” LaBrant said.

“In the civilian world, things are not so aggressive. You don’t want to be scaring people or be intimidating to anyone like they teach in the Marines. You also do not want to seem very happy around your drill instructor, either.”

Capt. Danielle Pankey, director of Troy for Troops, said the percentage of reservists and National Guard members attending Troy University is high.

“The Troy campus has many National Guard and reservists, while other Troy campuses have more active duty members since many of them are close to military installations,” Pankey said.

She added that statistics show that on all of Troy’s campuses worldwide, 22 percent have a military affiliation. Military affiliations include spouses and dependents, many of those using Veterans Affairs benefits.

“We have Troy for Troops offices at every Alabama campus, and we are looking to expand those services to our field campuses outside of the state,” Pankey said.

The program is designed to help those with military connections get the information they need and to assist reservists such as LaBrant with time management for their busy schedules.

Spc. Brianna Callins, sophomore rehabilitation major from Dothan, said that Troy for Troops helps her transition from her military life to student life by offering things that some places on campus do not.

“Just being able to access your military and school stuff at the same time is a really big help,” she said. “It saves a lot of time. A lot of eligible students on campus are able to take advantage of what it has to offer.”

Callins is quick to give credit to the program for her transferring to Troy after spending one semester at Wallace Community College in Dothan.

“(It) is something that a lot of schools just do not offer,” Callins said.

She also said after doing her one-weekend military drill per month, and two weeks training per year, she is a medical support assistant with Veterans Affairs. She found that balancing time while going to school is different from just being in the military.

“In the military, everything is very structured,” Callins said. “You know where you must be, at what time. There is always a plan of action, but here not everyone has that. A lot of people may look at you differently because you do everything in a certain way, like how it is in the military.”

Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Kendrick, 36, works individually with Troy military-affiliated students on a regular basis. He is an Army officer basic branch recruiter.

“The biggest thing I reinforce with students is to just be proactive—even in your civilian and your military career,” Kendrick said. “In the military, getting an education is a no-brainer.

“You’re getting an education that some people would pay thousands of dollars for. You’re really diversifying yourself as a person when an employer looks at you.”

Kendrick enjoys seeing soldiers from below-average situations excel.

“I’ve been able to see the entire life cycle of it,” Kendrick said. “In this country, there are a ton of opportunities, especially in the military. You have that education money there if you want to use it.

“There are so many ways to utilize what is there. It is so rewarding to see people take advantage of that and become successful.”

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