Taking His Own Advice
Posted by Paula Paine on September 4, 2013 in
When Charles Stevenson, Jr. finally made the decision to take his own advice, he was all in – no holds barred. “As a senior non-commissioned officer in the United States Army, I always encouraged my soldiers to enroll in college and get their degree while on active duty,” said Charles. “Unfortunately, I did not fo
llow my own guidance. When I retired from the Army in 2005, I had over three years of college credits accumulated but no diploma.” Even though he was able to find a good job after retiring from the Army, when 2010 rolled around, Charles realized two things: his GI bill was going to expire, and he was limiting his career options by not having a college degree. “After attending an Ottawa Open House event, I felt the honesty, sincerity, dedication and compassion from the instructors and administrators I spoke with that night. Also, it was made clear that this was not one of these colleges where they just ‘give’ you a degree; Ottawa was going to challenge me.” He was up to the challenge, however. Charles is now enrolled in the Master of Arts in Human Resources program, having completed his BA in Communication at the OU-Wisconsin campus in 2012. He has his sights set on teaching at the college level. Charles has been challenged not only by his professors and the coursework while earning his degrees, but by many of his classmates, as well. “In almost every course I have taken, I have had one or more female classmates that exude intelligence, confidence and strength like none other. In many cases these women have been single moms, have a child with a special need or work multiple jobs to make ends meet. When you see people in those situations working towards a higher education, it makes you proud to be their classmate.” Two other people who have made an impact on Charles’s life are his father and his JROTC instructor in high school. “My father worked hard all of his life; he worked so hard I did not have to work when I was growing up,” he said. “I will never be the man he was; he was a great dad. Master Sergeant Charles Lee Crawford taught me things even my father could not because of his long military career and different outlook on life. I was a middle class black teenager in the South being mentored by a middle aged, white, Korean War veteran from the east coast. It was quite an interesting four years of high school. Originally from Mobile, Alabama, Charles is currently a human resources technician with the Department of the Army in the Greater Chicago area. He is responsible for recruiting health care professionals for service in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve. While in the Army himself, Charles traveled to 43 states as a Recruiting Exhibit Specialist. “The one thing I saw and learned most about America during that time was how much of an opportunity we have as Americans to make things in our life and the lives of others better.” To that end, Charles serves as a high school sports official and does seasonal volunteering with the SE Wisconsin Special Olympics. He also plans to become an active member of the Ottawa Alumni Association in the near future, boosting that already active group on the Wisconsin campus.