From Iraq deployment to Green to Gold, Austin Peay has been a part of ROTC cadet’s life
(Posted Feb. 23, 2021)
Austin Peay State University has been a part of Katherine Alba’s life for several years, including during her 2016 deployment to Iraq.
“When I was deployed, it was when I first started taking a few classes with the school,” she said during a recent interview. “It was an interesting time to do it online, but the school made it very easy for me to be able take classes remotely.”
Alba – who recently won the CSM (R) Sidney Brown Scholarship and will graduate in May with a degree in business management – was serving in Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
“I’d go to work in the morning, do all that I would do, then at the end of the day, I’d go back to my room around 1800 (6 p.m.), and that’s when I would do my homework,” she said.
Developing as a leader
When Alba returned to Clarksville in December of that year, she immediately started APSU classes during “Winter Term,” a four-week online term between the fall and spring semesters. For the next few years, she continued juggling online classes at Austin Peay and her Army career.
That ended in 2019 when the Army accepted her into the Green to Gold program, a two-year program that provides eligible active-duty enlisted soldiers a chance to complete a bachelor’s or graduate degree and become commissioned as a U.S. Army officer.
Alba already has her eyes on the future.
“Both the ROTC program and the school I feel like they both have really developed me as a leader,” she said. “I feel very prepared to take on whatever I need to do next. Whenever my next duty position is going to be or wherever I go, I feel completely prepared that I'm going to be able to do well and excel wherever I go.”
Alba also hopes to use her degree to someday work in the field of human resources.
“I am passionate about helping others and making an organization the best it can possibly be,” she said.
Developing connections, lifelong friendships
Alba, originally from Reading, Pennsylvania, had several reasons for coming to Austin Peay.
“I chose to attend this University because of the amazing reputation the school and the APSU ROTC program has,” she said. “Before I started here, I constantly heard great things about the school from students, alumni and staff.”
The CSM (R) Sidney Brown Scholarship helps Alba in multiple ways. Not only does it help make her senior year feel more secure, but it also allows her to save her G.I. benefits for her children.
She also appreciates winning the scholarship because of her admiration for Brown – a Vietnam veteran who helped pave the way for a generation of elite African American soldiers. Brown deployed with the 101st Airborne Division in 1957 to Arkansas to help desegregate Little Rock Central High School .
He graduated in 1985 and went on to serve on the Montgomery County Commission. Brown died in 2020.
“It means a lot to me because he played such a big part in the community here and has such a big part in history itself,” Alba said. “I just really want his family to know that the foundation and the scholarship is really making a difference for me in my life and for my family.”
As an undergraduate, Alba has been an accomplished cadet within the ROTC program and a member of the APSU Chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success.
“During my time at APSU, I have made connections with so many wonderful people,” she said. “I have made lifelong friendships and also met many mentors who I regularly seek guidance from. These people have all made my experience here one to remember.”
To learn more
- For more about Austin Peay’s ROTC program, visit https://www.apsu.edu/rotc/.
- For more about the Green To Gold program at APSU, go to https://www.apsu.edu/rotc/active-duty-soldiers-green-to-gold.php.
- To read more about Sidney Brown’s life, visit this news obituary from The Leaf-Chronicle: https://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/news/local/clarksville/2020/01/06/sidney-brown-trailblazing-black-airborne-soldier-dies/2822983001/.
How to give
This story features a student who has benefited from an APSU endowment. Endowments are permanently restricted funds managed by the Austin Peay State University Foundation. The amount of each scholarship award may vary and will be determined based upon the value of the endowment and the Foundation spending plan. To support APSU fundraising initiatives, contact the Office of University Advancement at 931-221-7127.
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