CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti– Throughout history, teaching has been considered one of the most noble of careers. Teachers work long hours and live on a modest salary, yet the impact they have is immeasurable.
Another noble profession is that of a soldier. They endure long hours, hardships and separation from their families, also earn a modest salary and are willing to give their lives for their country.
The dream of one servicemember here is to be become both.
Army Cpl. De’Marcus Hopson, a native of Madisonville, Ky., is a National Guard soldier from the 2138th Forward Support Company deployed to the Horn of Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He also is a full-time student at Kentucky State University, majoring in secondary social studies education with a double minor in African-American studies and speech communication.
“I plan on teaching at an inner-city school,” Hopson said. “The military has a program called Troops to Teachers, where you have a commitment to teach at an inner-city school for two to three years with military incentives, benefits and stipends.”
Hopson said he always has wanted to teach in that type of environment. “I feel very strongly about teaching, because growing up, I can count with one hand how many male teachers I had,” he added. “Also, to teach in an urban, poverty-stricken community, you need to be able to connect with the kids.”
Hopson said he believes he has what it takes to connect with those students because of his military background, and because he does not have the middle-class mentality that most new teachers have and try to enforce when they teach inner-city students.
Hopson is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and also plays in the university’s marching band.
His father was in the military, Hopson said. He initially joined the Guard to pay for school, he added, but now his motivation to serve has changed.
“I believe that everybody should serve their country,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to learn and grow, develop discipline and leadership skills, time management, and also get your school paid for.”
Hopson was selected as Soldier of the Year for the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, and next is Kentucky’s statewide competition for Soldier of the Year. He was first selected for a company board out of his platoon for his outstanding leadership skills, military bearing, physical fitness scores and other factors, he said. He won that board, and then competed against nominees from the battalion’s four other batteries.
In addition to being a team leader providing security for the ammunition supply point here, Hopson also participated in the Warrior Leader Course held here.
“I really appreciate being able to go through the Warrior Leader Course while deployed,” he said. “I learned a lot more in depth about leadership abilities and skills, which will help me a lot in my military and civilian career.”
Hopson, the second of six children, said he hopes to finish his school within the next year and a half, and also plans to stay in the Guard until retirement. He said he would recommend the Guard, and the military in general, to everyone.
“The Guard is enabling me to serve my country and go to school at the same time,” he added. “And it also is helping me accomplish my dream of being a teacher.”