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NEWS | Dec. 28, 2021

Michigan Guard members share experiences with students during career day

By Master Sgt. David Eichaker Michigan National Guard Public Affairs

The Michigan National Guard and the Washtenaw Alliance for Virtual Education (WAVE) teamed up on Dec. 14th to present career options for students of the school. The mission of WAVE is to inspire students of all backgrounds and experiences to achieve academic and personal success through their own unique paths. The WAVE is a high school program for students in their mid to upper teens.

The Michigan National Guard consists of Army and Air National Guard members. Providing emergency response to the State is a core function of the MING and through the National Guard, there are career and training opportunities in numerous military jobs that translate to civilian careers.

“This is important so students can see all the options that are open to them,” said Monique Uzelac, program director with WAVE. “Students often don’t know what’s available to them as far as career choices and in particular, the Armed Forces.”

The Michigan National Guard offers benefits to further the education of its personnel. All MING members can be eligible for up to $14,400 in tuition assistance per year through the Michigan National Guard State Tuition Assistance Program, the GI Bill or the GI-Bill Kicker and receive cash bonus incentives up to $30,000 for selected military occupations.

“It was imperative to have military personnel come in because a lot of kids don’t really know how to enter the military, the requirements, and the types of jobs available,” said Daryl Shackelford, teacher consultant for WAVE.

During the presentations, students heard from Michigan Army and Air National Guard members about how they got started and the jobs and career paths they’ve taken throughout their individual careers.

“One of the neat things about the Armed Forces is there are so many different careers that can take you into the civilian world,” said Uzelac. “[This is] training someone wouldn’t necessarily get other than through lots of expensive degrees.”

The in-person presentation also added the human element and a direct connection between National Guard members and students.

“People are hearing what we do but they don’t see the person behind the uniform,” said Staff Sgt. Ciara Wright, career counselor, Michigan Army National Guard. “It’s always important to get in front of people, let them get a feel of your personality, hear the real stories and what you’re going through, and then hear the opportunities.”

Having a personal presence has a proven benefit.

“When I started here, the first student I had contact with said he wanted to go into the Air Force,” said Shackelford. “Another student talked about her brothers being in the military and that she wanted to go into the military and another student said he wants to go into the military as a welder.”

Even if the students aren’t considering the military, listening to the presentations can at least offer options for those not knowing what life will be like after high school.

“I want the kids to be informed and not potentially miss out on something because they didn’t have the information,” said Shackelford. “The things I was finding out at age 30 and still at 50—I want the students to have as much information as possible at age 16 to put them on a path to successful careers.”

Individuals looking for more information about how serving in the Michigan Army or Air National Guard can offer great opportunities are encouraged to contact recruiters at: Michigan Army National Guard recruiting, www.miarmyguard.com, 888-906-1636, the Michigan Army National Guard app, or Michigan Air National Guard recruiting, 1-800-432-4296 or Facebook at https://facebook.com/MIANGRecruiting/.

“There are many opportunities you can take in the military and it doesn’t have to be equated to combat,” said Wright. “It could be something as simple as human resources if someone likes administrative duties.”

“Always speak with a recruiters and let them give you the tools and help steer their path and help them figure out what they want to do,” she said.