FORT KNOX, Kentucky (July 2, 2024) – In the bustling life of college students, balancing academics, extracurricular activities and social life is a challenge. Yet, Cadet Carl Owen, from the University of Central Arkansas, managed to excel in ways that few could imagine.

His journey from a freshman navigating campus life to an enlisted signal soldier of the Arkansas National Guard, a dedicated Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. member, and a star soccer player is a unique story of determination, discipline and resilience.

When Owen first stepped onto the campus of the University of Central Arkansas, he was like many other freshman – nervous and eager to start his school life as a soccer player and make the most of his college experience.

Shortly after starting school, Owen pledged into the 3rd largest African American fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. From there, he met a diverse group of people and made connections that would last him a lifetime. Little did he know that this fraternity would change his career goals going forward.

“There was an Alpha at my school, and he encouraged me to join the Army,” explains Owen.

With the commitment to the fraternity, college life and soccer, Owen finds himself taking a short break from school to enlist into the Arkansas National Guard in 2022 as a 25U, signal support specialist.

Owen explains that the encouragement to join stemmed from a fellow fraternity member that commissioned and served in the active duty and national guard components.

While completing Basic Training and the demands of Advanced Individual Training, Owen found a love for computer science. Once successfully graduating from his trainings and traveling back home, Owen made the decision to pursue his degree in computer science.

“I’ve never met anybody in a similar situation like I am,” said Owen. “I play a sport at my school, I am in a fraternity, and I’m in the Army getting a STEM degree in college.”

Owen juggles a lot of responsibilities yet remains optimistic and resilient. While being in Cadet Sumer Training, Owen has gained knowledge of other skills to enhance his leadership abilities. As a future army officer, and being a leader in general, managing multiple tasks and being able to maintain resilience and composure are essential.

“When I commission and I get in a Platoon Leader spot, I’ll have to manage different tasks,” said Owen. “You’re managing all your people, taking care of all your people, all their problems and your problems too.”

Over these couple of years, Owen expresses his experience in diverse environments and balancing different responsibilities. Being in leadership roles through the ROTC program, such as squad leader and platoon leader, has helped Owen prepare for the positions he will take on in his career. Owen is also the Vice President of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., where the expectations of being a leader are similar to the army.

“I’m in leadership roles in every aspect,” emphasizes Owen. “It’s all like a big cohesive thing, many similarities with comradery and standards of leadership.”

With the graduation of Advanced Camp on the forefront of his mind, Owen hopes to commission and become a Cyber officer for the U.S. Army. Owen remains determined to show that his story is an example of what can be accomplished with dedication, hard work and passion. His journey is an inspiration to all who strive to beat the odds.

“I want to encourage the future leaders of America,” said Owens. “Stay positive, keep your head on your shoulders and prepare for what’s next.”

About the Author: Jordan Chism