Northwest’s Show-Me Gold Program is gaining more and more soldiers.
Junior Bri Ledger is interested in the Show-Me Gold Program and will soon be another soldier to participate in the program.
Ledger said she had always thought about being in the military. She said she was not sure what she wanted to do coming out of high school. She knew she wanted to join the military, but she also wanted to cheer.
“I thought, ‘I am either going to go to Northwest and make the cheer team, or I am going to go into the military,’” Ledger said.“I made the cheer team and thought, ‘OK well, that’s my answer.’”
Ledger cheered for Northwest her freshman year before she realized it was not what she wanted to do. After she quit cheering, Ledger said she missed the team aspect and almost transferred to a different school.
“There was a point last year, I was like ‘I don’t know if Northwest is for me anymore. I don’t know if everything I want is here; what if I transfer to Nebraska?’” Ledger said.
Soon after she had those thoughts, she found the National Guard and learned more information about the Show-Me Gold Program. After missing that team aspect and knowing she wanted to go into the military, she knew the National Guard was what she was meant to do.
Ledger has a few friends who were already part of the National Guard, so she sat down with one of them, junior David Parker, and asked him some questions about what she was getting into.
Parker enlisted in the Missouri Army National Guard as a 25B Information Technology Specialist in 2015 and has been part of the Show-Me Gold Program since 2017. He was the third soldier in the Northwest Show-Me Gold Program behind Lt. Kylee Lang and Lt. Dylan Richardson, who are already lieutenants.
Parker is also on the Northwest cheer team, where he met Ledger. Ledger is the one who introduced Parker to the cheer team, and he has been a cheerleader ever since.
When Ledger went to Parker asking questions about the National Guard, Parker said he jumped at the opportunity to help her. He helped her get set up with a recruiter.
“It was low pressure. They weren’t asking me to sign a contract,” Ledger said. “They told me, ‘You don’t have to do anything, we are just going to tell you about it, and if you have questions, ask us. The door is always open. Just think about it.’ After thinking about it, it seemed like the right move.”
Ledger leaves for basic training May 6. She will be gone for 10 weeks, and then she will be off to Advanced Individual Training for 31B Military Police. She then will be a member of the Show-Me Gold Program.
The Show-Me Gold Program started in Oklahoma in 2007 and was brought to Northwest in 2016. The Show-Me Gold Program is a leadership program for National Guard soldiers that train them to be future leaders, not only within the National Guard but also in their communities.
There is only a total of five universities that offer the Show-Me Gold Program in Missouri, including Northwest, William Woods, Southeast Missouri State, College of the Ozarks and Missouri Southern State.
Joshua Wilmes is an instructor at Northwest and works with the Show-Me Gold Program.
Wilmes said the reason the Show-Me Gold Program is present on Northwest’s campus is because the state of Missouri has identified universities that previously had an ROTC presence, that has since left the universities. In order to fill that void, they have brought the Show-Me Gold Program to those universities.
Although the Show-Me Gold Program is a little bit different than ROTC, it is similar.
The Show-Me Gold Program trains officer candidates who have already been through basic training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) to get ready for Officer Candidate School.
“Officer candidates typically go to OCS (Officer Candidate School) the summer between their junior and senior year,” said Wilmes. “They’ll attend Officer Candidate School, which is intense and rigorous training for the National Guard. The Gold Program is designed to prepare them for that school. It gives the soldiers a huge advantage.”