MCoE Soldier named TRADOC's Reserve Career Counselor of the Year for 2012
August 16, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. - Of 27 Reserve career counselors across U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, one has been singled out for excellence -- and he's a Fort Benning Soldier.
Sgt. 1st Class Octavious Rogers was named the Reserve Career Counselor of the Year during last month's TRADOC competition, which measured the top career counselors, Reserve career counselors and retention NCOs against each other, selecting the best from each category. Rogers will contend with Reserve career counselors from other commands at the Armywide competition in January.
"I was honored," Rogers said after he heard the announcement. "To represent Fort Benning and TRADOC at the highest level is a privilege."
The competition included an Army Physical Fitness Test, an essay, a 50-question exam and, finally, a military board.
"They pushed you to think outside of the box," Rogers said. "It wasn't just cut and dried. It was more … 'What would you do? What do you think?' It was definitely challenging, but it was also rewarding because I put in the effort to be up for the challenge."
Sgt. Maj. Luis Rivera, the Maneuver Center of Excellence command career counselor, said that's what he thinks helped Rogers stand out: dedication.
"He has put a lot of time and dedication into this and it shows," Rivera said. "He's very passionate … and disciplined. He's what every NCO should be. He's a true professional. He knows he's a Soldier first, NCO second, career counselor third. He does his job and always tries to improve on everything he does."
Rivera and the rest of the MCoE's retention office helped Rogers prepare for the competition with mock boards. Rogers began studying for it as soon as he learned he won at the Fort Benning level in June.
"In the TRADOC board, he did superbly," said Rivera, one of five senior NCOs who made up the board. "He reflected what a Soldier's supposed to be. All the board members were very excited about his performance."
Sgt. Maj. Craig Lott, command career counselor for TRADOC Retention Branch, another member of the board who felt Rogers did "a very good job," said the competition process is about mentorship and learning.
"It develops them as leaders," he said, "so they can represent (their) commands. He's ready for that. He's ready to move up."
Lott and Rivera said they both saw the potential for Rogers to win at the Army level. Rogers said there's nothing he'd like more.
"I want to win it all," he said. "I want to represent Fort Benning, but most of all, I want to represent my sergeant major and the Installation Retention Office because with their help and encouragement, that's how it was able to be. (Rivera) really made sure I was prepared.
"He encouraged me. He's supported me in everything I've tried to do. And when somebody invests in you, you want to show them and, of course, yourself also that their time was worth the investment. I'm looking forward to it."
For now, Rogers is turning his attention to finishing his master's degree in theology by October. After that, he'll start hitting the books again to prepare for the January competition.
Meanwhile, he's still fulfilling his daily duties, which, he said, he enjoys.
"And that is actually what makes it easier when you do go to the boards," he said, "because you're not trying to recite how to be what you are, you're just being what you are."
Rogers started in retention seven years ago, first in recruiting and then later, career counseling. While he said it's good to win Reserve Career Counselor of the Year for MCoE and TRADOC, that's not ultimately what it's about.
"You have to win Career Counselor of the Year every day when you're in the office and you're dealing with Soldiers," he said. "That's where the real trophy's at. I could get all the political accolades and miss the big boat if I'm not doing it day in and day out. A trophy can't just sit on your desk or be pinned on your uniform, it has to be inside of you each and every day."