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JSU, COLA and Mississippi National Guard aim to increase positive educational outcomes for service members

2019 RJT Byline

Dr. Bessie House-Soremekum receives a certificate of appreciation for her participation with the Mississippi National Guards continuing education program. (Photo special to JSU)

Dr. Bessie House-Soremekum receives a certificate of appreciation for her participation with the Mississippi National Guards continuing education program. (Photo special to JSU)

Jackson State University and the College of Liberal Arts recently collaborated with the Mississippi National Guard (MSNG) on their new continuing education program designed to provide service-learning activities to officers, reservists and non-commissioned officers in preparation of the rigors of matriculation in higher-education.

The partnership exposes service members to university culture, educators and professional networking opportunities.

“We’re trying to prepare our people for their senior service college,” said retired Colonel  Christopher Scott, who oversees the MSNG’s professional development. “We found that we were sending people to the [Academy], and they were struggling with the curriculum.”

According to Scott, officers go to the U.S. Army or Air War College. In contrast, noncommissioned officers go to the U.S. Army or Air Academy, where they enroll in graduate-level programs. “What’s important is that our students get a feel for graduate-level material,” he explained.

In support of these efforts, Scott spearheaded the MSNG’s bi-annual education event last month. Serving as keynote speaker was Dr. Bessie House-Soremekun, interim chair of the Department of Political Science, who presented on military and civilian relationships.

“The topic of military-civilian relationships is extremely important in our current historical moment because our Constitution clearly articulates that a democratic society should be based on civilian rule, rather than military rule, and thus mandates that the military should operate within the domestic realm as a non-political actor,” said Soremekun, who is also a political science professor.

At certain junctures in American history, explained Soremekun, including the Vietnam War,the Modern Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and currently, with the peaceful protests that have recently emerged over issues of police brutality, civilian spaces are becoming much more militarized with the placement of military soldiers in some American cities against the desires of the civilian leaders at the state and local levels, she said.

On the first day of the two-day event, MSNG officers and JSU’s ROTC cadets received a presentation by Lt. Governor Tate Reeves at the State Capitol, followed by a tour of the building.

On day two, Thomas Hudson, acting president of JSU, gave remarks during a dinner at Iron Horse Grill in downtown Jackson, where Soremekun lectured and fielded questions from the officers.

“I sincerely hope that this creative partnership can be expanded in the future to include other components as it is an excellent way for Jackson State University to continue to connect with the broader community around it and develop constant avenues for educational and real-world experiences for the members of the military, our faculty, and our students,” said Soremekun.

Aside from JSU, other participating schools include Mississippi State University, University of Southern Mississippi, and the University of Mississippi.