News: ‘Vanguard’ opens career opportunities for soldiers through education
Story by Staff Sgt. Elvis Umanzor
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – There are some things we do early in life that can have a significant impact on our career paths. Prior to joining the military, service members take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, and the general technical score is used to determine the military occupational specialty soldiers can serve in. Sometimes soldiers don’t get the job they’d like.
The Functional Academic Skills Training class helps prepare soldiers for taking the Armed Forces Classification Test, equivalent to the ASVAB, to improve their GT score and open doors of opportunity to other jobs within the Army.
People don’t realize the magnitude a GT score or the benefit education can have on their career, said U.S. Army Sgt. Rashad Scott, a radiology specialist with 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
When Scott is not assisting physicians diagnose musculoskeletal injuries or providing logistical analysis for his unit, he can be found at the education center on Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan, where he teaches the FAST class to enlisted members. The class focuses on math, vocabulary and reading comprehension.
The 28-year-old Boston, Ga., native, who holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s degree in economics, enjoys teaching and said his greatest achievement is being able to work with soldiers.
“Seeing some of them reach that 110 GT score [and] seeing all of them improve their GT score, that’s the type of stuff … you feel good about,” he said.
Out of the 80 soldiers he taught since August this year, 43 took the AFCT and increased their GT score by at least 10 points. Eighty seven to 90 percent of them received a score of 110 or higher, said Myra Chandler, a Harker Heights, Texas, native and the Central Texas College field representative on FOB Shank.
Scott doesn’t give himself enough credit, said Chandler.
“His methods and his techniques, especially with teaching math, are incredible,” she added. “[The students] have nothing but great remarks about him.”
“If you have a problem or question, he will answer you,” said U. S. Army Spc. Brandon Sapien, an infantryman and a radio telephone operator for the 4th IBCT joint operations center. “He will not turn anyone down.”
“He has us ... do the problem on the board to give us that confidence in our work,” said the 21-year-old from Fresno, Calif. “Sgt. Scott is a good instructor.”
As his tour nears an end, Sapien won’t be able to take the AFCT until he returns to Fort Stewart, Ga., but he is confident he’ll score more than a 110, a target score that usually equates to eligibility for any MOS. Sapien said he wants to go to ranger school and stay in the military and increasing his GT score will help him meet those goals.
Attending class is not easy. Soldiers work night shifts, return tired from daily security missions, and have other mission requirements to fulfill. Scott said he admired soldiers like Sapien and U.S. Army Pfc. Ty Harshberger, from LaGrange, Ind., who are working to improve themselves and credited their effort for their own success.
Motivated by his desire to be a Green Beret and follow in the footsteps of family members before him, Harshberger, 19, a forward observer assigned as an advanced field artillery tactical data system operator in the 4th IBCT JOC, attended the FAST class to prepare for the AFCT.
“Every school I wanted to go to required a 110 score or higher,” he said.
Even though the class has a high focus on math, a section most people have a hard time with, Harshberger said, “just showing up to the class every day and just listening” helped him.
He had a 99 GT and scored 114 after taking the AFCT.
Standing in front of class and teaching has become a passion for Scott, “Just to see the smile on people’s faces when they have that ‘ah ha’ moment,” he explained. “People appreciate the things they can use forever.”