Finishing Strong: 2015 Graduate Terrance Baul

 

On May 9, former U.S. Marine Terrance Baul will not only graduate from Armstrong cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, a concentration in military science and a minor in sociology, but he will also become a commissioned officer through the college’s Army Reserves Officer Training Course (ROTC) unit.

“I’m so happy,” he says of the big day. “I graduate and pin on a Second Lieutenant rank in a commissioning ceremony at the Trade Center the same day.”

Deciding to go back to school after serving three Iraq deployments in the armed forces, this 30-year-old Savannah native eyed a number of universities in Georgia before deciding on Armstrong.

“I chose Armstrong for several reasons,” Terrance explains. “One being the educational information I received while looking at different schools. I thought it was better compared to others around the state.”

He was also drawn to the class sizes, especially after previously earning an associate degree on a larger campus.
 
“At Armstrong, I was able to directly communicate with my professors,” he adds. “Coming from the University of South Carolina, where we were 70-plus students in a classroom and the professors don’t know your name, that was good for me.”

Opportunities provided through Armstrong’s military program, ranked as one of most veteran-friendly in the country with a variety of resources like the Military Outreach Center, Armstrong Green Zone and Student Veterans of America, was another major influencing factor.

“I shifted to Army ROTC through Armstrong and the program offers commissions, both reserve and active duty,” notes Terrance, who was able to cut the standard four-year time commitment in half with an undergraduate degree already in hand.  “Active duty slots are competitive ones, and I was able to obtain this with my previous military performance.”

Commissioned officers are educated professionals, trained to lead other soldiers in all situations. They receive training in general leadership and management, with increased levels of command experience as they advance.

“This means I’ll be able to expand my leadership and experience on a larger scale,” he notes. “Defending our country and being able to serve is everything to me.”

Four days after graduation, Terrance will report to infantry school at Fort Benning for basic leadership courses and then transition to a permanent station in El Paso, Tex., for the remaining nine years of his military career.

He eventually plans to attend graduate school and to become a social worker with the Veterans Health Administration, America’s largest integrated health care system serving more than eight million veterans each year.

“With my experience throughout war -- with the ups and downs and very traumatic things -- I feel like I can help other military members with issues they may be having,” Terrance says. “I’m excited about the future.”