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Photo by Ikira Bouvia, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Army Jacksonville Recruiting Battalion

Dr. Debra Gresham (center), Assistant Professor of Social Work at Thomas University, receives a certificate and a plaque commemorating her participation in the Education Tour of Fort Gordon July 30-Aug. 2. Presenting the items are Misty L. Calhoun (left), Education Services Specialist, Jacksonville Army Recruiting Battalion, and Lt. Col. David Henning (right), Commander or the Jacksonville Recruiting Battalion.


TU professor participates in Army Education Tour

This summer Thomas University’s Dr. Debra Gresham, an Assistant Professor of Social Work, spent four days learning about careers with the U.S. Army and other military opportunities during the Education Tour of Fort Gordon Army Base in Augusta, Georgia. Gresham, of Thomasville, was one of about 20 high school and college educators who participated in the tour Monday, July 30, through Thursday, Aug. 2.

Gresham said the goal of the tour is for the U.S. Army to reach out to educators within various communities so these educators can learn about available U.S. Army careers for high school and college students. The tour included educators from the U.S. Army’s Jacksonville (Florida) Recruiting Battalion and the Columbia (South Carolina) Recruiting Battalion.

Gresham was already somewhat familiar with military opportunities because of her own background.

“My experience was coming out of high school and going into the Marine Corps Reserves to help pay for college,” she said. “I was somewhat familiar with the military and the G.I. Bill, which helped me with college. Now there are many versions of the G.I. Bill." 

This tour was her first time visiting Fort Gordon.

“I had never been to Fort Gordon in Augusta, but I had heard of it,” Gresham said. “It was a good trip, and I learned a lot about the base. Fort Gordon was on the closure list a few years ago, and the community really rallied behind the base. They saved Fort Gordon, and also now it is poised to become the cyber security headquarters of the U.S. Army in 2020.”

During the tour, Gresham and the other educators met with soldiers training in cyber security and learned firsthand about the different positions available in the field. The group also had lunch with soldiers. They learned more about why the soldiers decided to join the Army and what the soldiers thought about the work they’re doing.

The educators also learned about other aspects of a soldier’s life.

“We got to fire the M-16 and the M-4 through a simulator,” Gresham said. There was also an exercise where you can crawl into a Humvee, and it would turn over. It was a controlled environment. We were able to tour the barracks. We saw a demonstration of how the military dogs are trained and work with handlers.”

Throughout the tour, the focus was always on how the military is a viable option for both high school and college students.

“Soldiers can go into the Army and earn G.I. benefits to pay for college,” Gresham said. “Just thinking about students here from TU, if they graduate with a bachelor’s degree, usually we route them to go into the military as an officer. If they go in as enlisted, they’re able to accrue money to repay student loan debt. There are a lot of opportunities for students who may want to go into the military. The Army offers students the ability to serve on active duty, or in the National Guard and/or Reserve components. In addition to four-year contracts, the Army now offers three-year and even some two-year contracts.”

Gresham plans to use her newly acquired knowledge to work with the local Army recruiter and share with TU students about the Army’s career possibilities. 

Click here to view the video of Dr. Gresham talking about her experience.


Photo by Ikira Bouvia, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Army Jacksonville Recruiting Battalion

 Thomas University’s Dr. Debra Gresham (front row, second from right), joins other educators from the Jackson Recruiting Battalion area for a quick photo during the tour of Fort Gordon.

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