ADA – After a five-year absence, East Central University is welcoming the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s GOLD Program back to campus in time for the fall 2021 semester.
The Guard Officer Leadership Development (GOLD) Program is similar to the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program utilized by the four major military branches in many universities. The GOLD Program was instituted to develop federally commissioned officers for the Oklahoma Army National Guard.
“It is a good career path, I believe,” said Jacob Hobbs, an ECU sophomore who has signed up to participate in the GOLD Program. “Not only that, I think it’s a good opportunity for me to serve my country to the best of my abilities.”
Student-soldiers who participate in ECU’s GOLD Program receive a 100% Oklahoma State Tuition Waiver and non-deployable status until after graduation. Afterward, the graduate will be eligible for Officer Candidate School, where he or she can earn the rank of Second Lieutenant and become a commissioned officer in the Oklahoma Army National Guard.
“We are thrilled to have the GOLD Program back on campus,” said Dr. Katricia Pierson, ECU president. “These students become leaders on campus and they create a level of energy that makes a university come alive. We cannot wait to see them out and about this fall and in the future.”
Like all GOLD Program participants, Hobbs is enlisted in the Oklahoma Army National Guard with a commitment of six years of active duty and two years of reserve duty. Any applicant must meet current National Guard enlistment criteria, agree to complete Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training, and maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0.
While on campus, GOLD Program members will drill in Guard-related classroom instruction, leadership labs, physical training and field exercises, among other duties.
ECU’s GOLD Program originated in 2008, but was deactivated in 2016 due to state budget cuts. With its return, ECU already has 12 students signed up to begin next fall. To learn more about the GOLD Program, please visit www.ecok.edu/gold.
Cutline: ECU sophomore Jacob Hobbs, center, will be among the first student-soldiers to participate in the relaunched GOLD Program next fall. At left is Major General Michael Thompson of the Oklahoma Army National Guard and at right is Dr. Katricia Pierson, ECU president. (ECU/Jaylea Harpole)