NC State has recently enrolled a very special group of students – Special Forces, to be exact. And not only can these highly trained soldiers say that they are part of the Wolfpack, but they can probably say it in a different language.
In 2009, NC State’s CHASS department of Foreign Languages and Literatures received a three-year, $800,000 Project GO grant to improve cultural and linguistic proficiency of ROTC students in five critical languages: Arabic, Chinese, Persian, Russian and Urdu. Project GO proved to be highly successful and led to a one-year, $1.8 million pilot grant from the National Security Education Program to establish the NC State Language Training Center to teach these critical languages to Special Forces soldiers at Fort Bragg. (“Helping Students and Soldiers Talk the Talk,” Accolades, 2012: 22-23.)
For the spring and summer 2012 terms the Distance Education (DE) office assisted with setting up the classes and enrolling 26 soldiers at Fort Bragg in these five language programs. Katie Crews, DE scheduling officer, coordinated with the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures to schedule 65 special classes for this program. Each student is enrolled in 28 credits through NC State over the spring and summer terms. The intensive courses begin at elementary level and reach advanced level in 24 weeks, culminating in a five-day simulated language immersion, with native-speaking actors role-playing in each language and situational dilemmas for the soldiers to resolve.
Melissa Williford, director of DE administrative services, and Sharon Broere, assistant director of DE administrative services, made trips to Fort Bragg to assist the soldiers with completing their NC State Non-Degree Studies applications and to answer questions about transfer credits, grades, and student IDs. Broere even took student photos so they were able to provide NC State student IDs to the enrolled soldiers. This was a great source of pride for the soldiers, as they are now able to tell their friends and families, “I go to State.”
The partnership between NC State and the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School is part of a larger effort involving the University of North Carolina system and the military. According to Dr. Dwight Stephens, Director of the Language Training Center, this marks an evolution in cooperation between the military and higher education. (“Helping Students and Soldiers Talk the Talk,” Accolades, 2012: 22-23.)
For more information about Distance Education at NC State, visit distance.ncsu.edu.