In a special program between the Department of Health and Kinesiology and the West Point Military Academy, three West Point graduates have began course work toward a fast-track master's degree in Kinesiology, which they will earn in one year.
This aggressive program was developed by Dr. Buzz Pruitt, professor and graduate programs chair in HLKN, in consultation with the administration of West Point Military Academy. Upon completion of this degree, Capt. Gabriel Damon Wells, Capt. Shawn Bault and Capt. Adam Hodges will return to West Point to become instructors in Physical Education.
"When we first developed this program, I found myself apologizing to the folks at West Point for [the programs] rigor since this is a very challenging course of study," said Pruitt. "When we met these officers, however, I realized that they can handle anything we demanded. These are the best and the brightest in the U.S. Army."
Capt. Hodges was drawn to Texas A&M by his wife and former Aggie, Dr. Valerie Hodges (Ph.D., R.D.). After graduating from West Point in May 1998, Capt. Hodges joined the Army Flight School where he learned how to fly the AH-640 Apache Longbow. He was then stationed at Fort Hood from 2000-2006, and served in Iraq from November 2005 through October 2006.
"Graduate-level education is a ticket to better things in life," he says. He hopes to make contacts necessary to grow in his career through this special degree program.
Capt. Bault also served three separate tours in Iraq and says that he chose Texas A&M because of the high academic standards, rich traditions, and superior spirit of the Corps.
"I will instruct in the Department of Physical Education at USMA (West Point) next year," he says. "The knowledge that I gain at A&M will directly enhance my future career at West Point. It will also help me in the future when I return back to soldiers in the regular Army."
In 2002, with seven years of armed service under his belt, Capt. Wells was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, where he served two year-long tours in Iraq. Participating in this program, says Capt. Wells, will get him in the door for a strength coach position, which has always been his dream.
Selection for this program remains limited, and it will never be a large program, said Dr. Pruitt. There are plans for one more West Point graduate to participate in the program for the summer 2007. Pruitt says that this program will continue in the future.
The first group of students through this program earned their master's degrees in May 2006. Capt. Khanh Diep, Capt. Allen Leth, and Capt. Joel Newsom are currently teaching courses in boxing, gymnastics, and health education.