From the National Guard to the Classroom

College campuses are run amuck with people from different races, genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds. You will never meet someone with the same story as you, which is something that makes college great. You get to learn so much solely from the people you’re surrounded by.


One unique experience that you don’t hear from every day is that of the students that are coming to college after having been in the National Guard. It is estimated by that in 2020 the U.S. National Army Guard will have 336,000 members and the U.S. Air Force Guard will have 107,700 members.


One student that comes from the National Army Guard is Specialist Aydin Chester. He is  majoring in Mechanical Engineering originally from Louisville, Kentucky and is an enlisted soldier and his unit is A-2/138 FA BN. Specialist Chester went through basic training and then attended the University of Louisville for one year and then transferred to the University of Kentucky this year.


Senior Airman Brett Hook is another student here at the University of Kentucky majoring in Agriculture Economics and is originally from Marshall, Illinois. He is in the U.S. Air Force National Guard and his unit is the 165 Airlift Squadron. He enlisted in May of 2016, left for training in February 2017 and got back in December of 2017. Airman Hook started at Kentucky in the fall of 2018.


When talking about their experience of transitioning from the guard to college a common theme was that the guard taught them the discipline and time management needed to succeed in college.


“I feel like the guard definitely prepared me more for college… you go through basic training and are taught that failure isn’t an option, and time management especially,” said Specialist Chester. “So, coming in you already have those skill sets that a first-year freshman would not have.”


Neither said that being in the guard has negatively impacted their college experience, and Airman Hook mentioned that had he not joined the guard a lot more doors would be closed, and he wouldn’t have the same opportunities he has now.


They both were asked to talk about some of their favorite experiences in the guard.


Specialist Chester first said that, “My job is f*cking dope dude,” while laughing but then continued, “Competing for the Soldier of the Year event. 5-day comprehensive competition that consisted of 10 to 15 events including night land navigation, different M-9 and M-4 shooting scenarios and urban and tactical movement room-clearing challenges.”


Airman Hook took a more serious tone and said, “We flew in the 75th anniversary of D-day and dropped over 1,000 paratroopers in 35 minutes over Paris. I’ve never felt more American,” he said.


Overall, it seems that this experience has been positive for both men and an interesting one to learn about. So, if you have the time, listen to the stories of those around you and you could potentially learn a lot about something, and make a friend or two along the way.