Veterans Day is a salute – an annual recognition of those who have served and placed others before self. Following in a long tradition of military service on College Hill, Rogers State University alumni Cindy Fields (’18) and current students Shawn Hines and David Ault are grateful for their military service and the support they’ve received through their educational journey.
Fields is a Native American veteran who served in the Army from 2003-2009 as an operating room technician. The oath she took to protect our great country endures long after her active duty service ended.
“Being a veteran is so much more than a title. It’s an honor and a sense of pride, knowing you have seen and done things that most never will nor will they comprehend,” Fields said.
With their right hand raised, Fields, Hines and Ault, promised to serve our country without question: I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
“When I first swore in, it was exciting and scary at the same time. I had never left home or been on a plane. Now I was going far away to experience the unknown. Heading off to serve my country was the best the best decision I ever made,” Fields said.
Fields was medically discharged after sustaining injuries in Mosul, Iraq. She returned home to utilize her G.I. Bill to complete a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership. She is currently working toward her MBA at RSU while serving fellow service members as the Administrative Officer for Anesthesia Services at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System.
“The best thing about getting my education at RSU was the ability to take classes online while still working and commuting. I am happy that I get to continue serving my brothers and sisters in my new role. So many have been through so much and to be a part of an organization that takes care of those who have served and are hurting is the highest honor,” Fields said.
Shawn Hines is a Navy veteran from Claremore. Through his service, he was able to experience the world outside the Oklahoma state line.
“I was able to experience cultures that I would never dream of seeing. I went to Florence, Rome and Jerusalem. Without the Navy, I would have only seen those cultures on the internet or in a book,” Hines said.
Hines served in the Navy as an intelligence analyst, three years in Hawaii and four years onboard the USS Roosevelt DDG-80 out of Mayport Florida. He left the Navy to pursue a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. RSU has given him the opportunity to get a degree close to home.
“I love how much the faculty cares about and wants to help their students at RSU. They show that they want to see their students succeed,” Hines said.
His time in the service shaped his diligence and organizational skills.
“My military career has helped me with organization skills and given me a work ethic to succeed when it gets difficult or I wake up feeling like I do not want to do anything,” Hines said.
Ault, also a Claremore native, served in the Marine Corps for twenty years. He is studying military history, volunteers for Toys for Tots and is president of a motorcycle club that focuses on local charities. His advice to students is to work hard and never stop learning.
“Learn as much variety as you can. You never know what skills will be useful in your career or everyday lives in the military or civilian community,” Ault said.
RSU’s Guard Officer Leadership Development program made its inaugural debut in 2014, bringing boots back on the hill after more than 40 years. The program prepares Soldiers for Officer Candidate School between their junior and senior year of college. Upon completion of the GOLD program, students earn the rank of Second Lieutenant and become a commissioned officer in the Army National Guard.
“RSU welcomes veterans. We have a military history of advancing the education of the nation’s armed services and drawing on our own history as a military academy. The Oklahoma Military Academy operated from 1919 to 1971, and its alumni continue to support our servicemembers through scholarships,” Danette Boyle, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Military Academy Alumni, said.
Earlier this year, RSU celebrated the grand opening of its Student Veteran Center. The center serves as the central location for veteran support services and a space for student veterans, active military and military affiliated students to study, relax and foster a sense of community.
The SVC is made possible in part by the Oklahoma Military Academy Alumni Association. In honor of OMA’s rich tradition, RSU continues to provide transformational opportunities to student veterans and their families.