HONOLULU - "This is really the best leadership program there is out there," said Cadet Capt. Mary Fulgencio. "It really teaches you how to run things and be able to figure out how to tackle issues you don't think you would ever come across."

After six years "in" as an enlisted Soldier in the Army, Fulgencio took the advice of her officers and applied for the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Green to Gold program.

She was accepted into the Green to Gold Active Duty Option (ADO) program and is currently attending Hawaii Pacific University.

Fulgencio will graduate May 13 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising.

"My initial reason for joining the program was to make a difference in the Army," said Fulgencio. "I've seen officers in the Army who motivated me to step up and make the difference."

The Army Green to Gold program provides unique options for Soldiers interested in pursuing baccalaureate degrees and earning commissions as Army officers upon receiving the appropriate degree.

Soldiers who participate in the program are discharged from active duty and enlisted in the Army Reserve as part of their ROTC program.

Enlisted members who meet the prerequisites can either apply for a two-, three-, or four-year scholarship or can participate in the Green to Gold program without applying for or earning a scholarship through the ADO.

The ADO is a two-year program that provides eligible active duty enlisted Soldiers the opportunity to enter the ROTC program as academic juniors or graduate students. Students then complete a baccalaureate degree and are commissioned as an Army officer upon receiving their degree.

For many Soldiers, leaving the Army to finish their education is not an option. Losing pay and benefits are among their top concerns. The ADO meets these concerns as Soldiers continue to receive their current pay and allowances while in the program.

"This program was the best fit for me," said Fulgencio.

The Green to Gold program allows cadets a chance to understand and develop their leadership style in practical and real-world terms, according to Lt. Col. Rod Laszlo, professor of Military Science, Army ROTC.

"It is an extremely competitive program," said Laszlo. "Over 400 Soldiers apply for 200 slots yearly, so having above a 3.0 GPA in college, a score of 270+ on the Army physical fitness test and excelling in leader activities are all important in the process of selection."

Laszlo stated the program gives Soldiers an education that will help them succeed in the Army.

For Cadet Sgt. Stanley Tochiki, the education he received in and out of the classroom was equally important.

"There are several opportunities for cadets to learn and refine their leadership skills, which include positions ranging from squad leader to company commander," said Tochiki, "so we learn a broad spectrum."

Tochiki, a student at Hawaii Pacific University, will graduate May 13 with a Bachelor of Science degree in diplomacy and military studies.

"I am currently serving as the Battalion S1," said Tochiki, "so right now I am getting to do exactly what I will be doing when I get to my first unit."

Tochiki will receive his commission on May 17 and serve as a second lieutenant in the Adjutant General Corps.

Currently, eight Soldiers in Hawaii will graduate this year and begin their careers as officers.

"Many are surprised by the challenges (of the Green to Gold program) but all have risen to the challenge and generally excelled in the program," said Laszlo.

Fulgencio is looking forward to the challenges and experiences as an officer in the U.S. Army.

"I hope to gain more knowledge and leadership experience needed for me to be more confident in making the difference in the welfare of Soldiers," said Fulgencio.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16