January 29, 2016 – Joining the ranks of the Army ROTC was always a personal goal for Fort Valley State University student Napoleon Blake. The junior vet tech major officially became a cadet in the Wildcat Battalion in 2015.
“I joined the ROTC last year, I was always interested in it,” Blake said. On Jan. 28, the student, along with nine cadets, signed a commitment to join the United States Army at a contracting ceremony held in the C.W. Pettigrew Center. Upon graduation, the cadets will become 2nd Lieutenants in the U.S. Army, on reserve or active duty.
During the contracting ceremony, the stone-faced student soldier recited a Cadet Creed and recited the Contracting Oath that was delivered by LTC Oliver T. Walton, commander of the Wildcat Battalion. After delivering the oath, cadets received certificates from Dr. Paul Jones, president of FVSU, and Walton.
“This ceremony is a public occasion to celebrate a significant event,” Walton said to an audience filled with parents and supporters. “The contract that these young men and lady has signed is an agreement to promise to do something in return for something in value. Folks, they promise to remain in school full time, make good grades, stay physically and morally fit. What do they receive in value? They join part of a premiere leadership development program in the U.S. that prepared Colin Powell, Earl Graves Sr. and Sam Walton.”
FVSU president, Dr. Paul Jones, commended cadets for their service to their country.
“This is a special day for FVSU, not only for our cadets, but for their families and supporters,” Jones said. “We couldn’t be more proud of each one of you. You have demonstrated that you are leaders, and we’re thankful for your commitment to serve our country. It means a tremendous amount to everyone here. We are only a free country because of what you do. FVSU has a large, rich history of supporting our armed forces which dates back to 1972. We have always been strong and resilient because you have been a part of this campus community. As the tenth president of this campus community, we will provide a welcoming place for our students in this program.”
Blake said the ROTC program improved his self-esteem. He wanted to join the ROTC during his freshman year in college, but decided against it because he was adjusting to college life and his vet tech classes. He says the Army ROTC has helped to build his confidence, help him better evaluate his character and his own abilities.
“This program has given me better confidence, which was an area that I lacked growing up,” Blake said. “I’ve been able to fine tune my experience where I can lead people. If I looked back ten years ago, I would never have been able to see myself doing the things I do now, and I love it. The ROTC also allowed me to see that I have a lot of shortcomings, and to see how far I could push myself.”
Cadet Larry Chapman, a Baltimore, Md. native, was another FVSU graduate student who signed a contract to enter the United States Army. The FVSU alumnus came to campus on a football scholarship in the fall of 2008. In 2013, Chapman earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in psychology. After leaving college, the alum joined the ranks of the Army National Guard, where he received training at several different bases including Fort Seal in Lawton, Oklahoma and Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
In January 2014, the 25-year-old decided to re-enroll at FVSU to earn a master’s degree in mental health and rehabilitation counseling. He decided to join the ROTC in order to pay for his college degree. Chapman’s parents were there to support him.
The student said adjustment to the Wildcat Battalion ROTC and Army life was easy for him, since he grew up in a strict household.
“I’ve been able to use the GI bill to pay for college,” Chapman said. “They’ve also helped me with student loan repayment and I have received an allowance through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs where I work as a clerical assistant to the VA. I assist students with obtaining military benefits, processing their information, and serving the community.”
Chapman will graduate in 2017. Blake says that he wants to be stationed in San Antonio, Tex. He says he wants to receive training in veterinarian division under health services in the army.
“They have accommodating choices in the ROTC,” Blake said.
For more information, contact the Gina Connors at (478) 825-6340.
Cadet Napoleon Blake
Cadet Larry Chapman
Cadet Ezequiel Rivera
Cadet Anthony Bush
Cadet Deonte Johnson
Cadet Devante Marshall
Cadet Jasmine Stone
Cadet Charles Waller
Cadet Davon Brunes
Christina D. Milton, public relations specialist
Marketing and Communications
(478) 825-6319, firstname.lastname@example.org