Father Sacrifices Own Graduation to Salute Soon-To-Be Commissioned Daughter at Hers

Retired Army Sgt. Roberto Valentin Could Not Be Prouder that Daughter Keila Outen is Following in His Footsteps of Service

May. 8, 2019
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Keila Outen

Many fathers would do anything for their daughters. If you need proof, look no further than the father of graduating senior Keila Outen, whose father Roberto Valentin will sacrifice participating in his own college commencement ceremony this weekend to support his daughter at hers.

Outen is graduating with a degree in psychology and will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army as a military police officer. As part of the tradition of the officer commissioning ceremony, she is to receive a first salute from an enlisted service member of her choice. Her father retired after 26 years of service in the U.S. Army as a Sgt. 1st Class (SFC) and then went back to school to finish his degree in science of religion, theology and biblical studies. He was set to participate in his own graduation ceremony this weekend, but it occurs at the same time on the same date at Liberty University in Virginia. Instead, he will be in FVSU’s HPE complex to share his daughter’s special moment and give that salute.

“It makes graduation that much more meaningful,” said Outen. “For him to sacrifice his own graduation to be at mine means the world to me.”

It is equally important for Valentin, in whose footsteps Outen is following into the Army. She is his oldest daughter.

“I would do anything for my children,” he said. “Being there for her and what she is doing is more important than me. Words can’t even explain or describe how I feel for her and what she is doing. I’m very proud that I will be able to give her her first salute. As a noncommissioned officer to an officer– that is a sign of respect, not only for the rank but for the person, and Keila is an amazing young lady. I’m very proud of her.”

Outen and Valentine
Keila Outen (right) and her family, including father Roberto Valentin (center)

Soldier. Miss Congeniality. Singer. Ambassador. Track star. Miss Old Gold. And that’s just a few of the titles which can be used to describe graduating senior Keila Outen.

It’s safe to say that the Puerto Rico native has made her mark on Fort Valley State University. She is often featured in publications and at events to represent the best of FVSU.

“What I enjoy most about my experience at Fort Valley State University is the close-knit community,” she said. “I am a member of the Wildcat Family and this is my FVSU.”

Since she came to the university as a transfer student, she’s been omnipresent. Along with Wildcat Force, a student performance group, she wowed prospective students and helped recruit them to the university by showing her Wildcat love. She also sang in the Voices of Faith Choir and was selected as Miss Black and Gold before becoming a finalist in the 2017 Miss Georgia USA Pageant, where she was selected Miss Congeniality. That may have something to do with her desire to bridge cultural differences, and promote diversity as a strength, a concept on which she based her platform, “Beauty in Unity.”

“I have every intention to promote unity in our country by focusing on our differences,” she said.

Read: FVSU Student Wins Congeniality Award in Miss Georgia USA Pageant

After graduation, she will continue her career with the United States Army, and plans to eventually obtain a master’s degree in children’s mental health and work with children on the
autism spectrum.

“God has a plan and a purpose,” she says. “I may not see it right now, but I know if I walk by faith, doors will open.”