CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Dec. 9, 2005ᾰSoutheast Missouri State University students Joseph Hilfiker and Justin Rose are continuing their higher education by attending Southeast’s higher education centers while serving in the Army National Guard.
Hilfiker is a student at the Harry L. Crisp Bootheel Education Center (CBEC) in Malden, Mo. Rose is a student at the Kennett Area Higher Education Center (KAHEC).
Joseph Hilfiker is a student at theCrisp Bootheel Education Centerand has been with the ArmyNational Guard for more thanseven years.
Joseph Hilfiker has been a part of the Army National Guard for more than seven years. His most recent mission was to northern Iraq with Company D of the 735th Maintenance Support Battalion. He was stationed there for 10 months.
“I was the unit supply specialist and helped provide amenities for the 175 soldiers in my company,” Hilfiker said. “I made sure they received things like food, water, clothes and ammunition.”
Hilfiker says he acted as a liaison officer for the Army. He would work with companies sending supplies to the troops to ensure everyone could get what they needed to survive in the desert. Hilfiker’s other duties included the logistics side of his company’s mission.
“I also helped organize convoys and was part of the Convoy Security Team for the Army’s logistics control,” he said. “My responsibility was to overlook the convoy teams as they moved through northern Iraq while they were watching out for the enemy.”
Hilfiker says he will leave the Army in April 2006 and will be able to focus more on completing his education at the CBEC. He is currently enrolled for a full load of classes in the spring and plans to study criminal justice.
“Being in the Army, I’ve never experienced any roadblocks for continuing my education at the CBEC,” Hilfiker explained. “Even though I would be gone for months at a time, the faculty and staff always remembered my face and my name. It really made things easier from my transition from soldier to student.”
When Hilfiker was deployed to Iraq, he not only had to put his educational career on hold, but he also left behind his wife of only two weeks. He says he considers himself a newlywed now that he is home.
“The hardest part about leaving for a tour of duty is that you have to put your life on hold, especially when it comes to your family and friends,” he said. “The CBEC has been very gracious with helping me get back into my educational career after serving my country.”
Justin Rose is a student of theKennett Area Higher Education Centerand has been with the Army National Guard for over six years.
Justin Rose is a sergeant in the Army National Guard, and has served for more than six years. He is responsible for serving as a team leader to the soldiers under him.
“When my team is deployed, we serve as military police and assume the same responsibilities for keeping the peace as civilian police,” he said. “We can be gone anywhere from three weeks to 18 months for a mission.”
Rose has traveled across the globe in service to his country. He was stationed in Kosovo in March 2003 for a full year to help with the Freedom of Movement efforts taking place there. His team aided in keeping the peace between the Serbians and Albanians and established a safe and secure environment. In December of 2004, Rose was sent to Germany for four months to help assist with military conversions.
Rose’s most recent deployment was to help with relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina victims. He was stationed in Louisiana for three weeks in August.
“Our team policed the area and helped put a stop to the looting taking place in New Orleans,” Hilfiker explained. “We helped distribute medical supplies, food and water to victims and assisted with evacuation efforts.”
Rose says he originally joined the Army as a way to pursue his education. When he is home, Rose says he tries to take a full load of courses at KAHEC because he is never sure when he will be deployed next. He plans on getting his degree in sociology with a minor in psychology.
“KAHEC has always assisted me when I receive my orders by offering online courses for me to take or by working to get me in the courses I need when I come home,” he said. “After I came back from New Orleans, I had already missed the first three weeks of classes. KAHEC held the classes I needed and my professors worked with me to get me caught up with the rest of the students.”
Rose says one of the biggest challenges for him is the dedication it takes to be both a soldier and a student. The time crunches have helped to develop good time management skills, he said.
“I’m committed to both my soldiers and my education, so it can be tough trying to balance those responsibilities,” Rose explained. “KAHEC provides me a great opportunity to balance both because I can take the courses I need without ever having to step foot inside a classroom.”
Both Hilfiker and Rose say they do not have definite graduation dates set, but know it will be a possibility because of the opportunities both the CBEC and KAHEC offer to them.
“My personal motto in life is you have to be up or get up because you can’t let defeat get the best of you in life,” Rose said. “Southeast is helping me do this and achieve my educational goals.”