Last Updated: June 28th, 2024By

FORT KNOX, KENTUCKY– With varying levels of experience in the field, the passion for teaching and mentorship rings true for Cadets with 4th Regiment, Advanced Camp. 

Cadet Andrew Helgren from Purdue University, In. values the strong community he has built in Army ROTC. The rigorous training exercises create stronger relationships and close friendships for Helgren. 

“It teaches you that you’re no larger than the person next to you regardless of experience,” Helgren said. “Everyone’s on the same level, you all suffer together and that brings you closer as a group.”

 His mom, one of his greatest influences and supporters, works as a teacher. Helgren spent his early years visiting her classroom. As he grew older, he assisted in teaching lessons in math and engineering. Upon commissioning as a 2nd Lieutenant, he hopes to work in Ordnance Corps. As he transitions to higher ranking officer positions, his goal is to obtain a Master’s in Business Administration. 

Apart from a successful career in the U.S. Army, Helgren’s dream job is to be a teacher. 

“It’s the best feeling in the entire world when you get to teach someone to do something and they learn it and they pick it up for the first time,” Helgren said. 

Helgren brings his love for teaching and learning to his platoon at Cadet Summer Training. 

“We have a lot of Green to Gold in our platoon that know a lot more than I do and they have a lot of information to share,” Helgren said. “A big thing is just taking time to talk to people and learn who they are.”

Michael Rodriquez, 4th Regiment Advanced Camp, is a prior enlisted Soldier in the Green to Gold Program in the same platoon as Helgren. 

Rodriguez is originally from Puerto Rico and spent five years in the Ordnance Corps as a  13 Bravo, Cannon Crewmembers. He joined Army ROTC to pursue a higher education and become an officer, now pursuing his Master’s of Social Work from Fayetteville University, Nc.  

“It’s a lot of young people here, I’m 27,” Rodriguez said. “When I was in their shoes, I was in basic training and I now know how to fail.” 

Coming from Puerto Rico in 2018, Rodriguez followed in the footsteps of his uncle and father who were in the U.S. Army. With English being his second language, Rodriguez struggled at basic training. Communication struggles coupled with leaving his extended family back in Puerto Rico made the transition difficult.

“The first night, I’m not going to lie, I cried,” Rodriguez said. “It was rough.”

With years of experience in the field and overcoming obstacles, he offers his expertise to those in his platoon. 

“They actually call me uncle,” Rodriguez said. “That’s my nickname now. I like it a lot because I like to mentor them and try to lead them the right way based on experience because I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past.” 

His passion for the mental well-being of Soldiers allows him to bring a compassionate energy to Cadet Summer Training. 

“I wake up in the morning, I’m always looking at everyone, making them laugh, making sure they’re good,” Rodriguez said. “

With Rodriquez’s past experiences and Helgren’s future goals aligning, CST brings two individuals from different backgrounds together to learn and grow from one another. With over 9000 Cadets coming to Fort Knox over the course of the summer, stories of mentorship are woven throughout training events.

About the Author: Kendall Kelly