Army Soldier encourages students to plan for the future
Command Sgt. Maj. Kennis J. Dent, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, speaks with Havre de Grace Middle School's Advancement Via Individual Determination, AVID, students about achievement and charting a plan for the future during a visit Nov. 16.

HAVRE de GRACE, Md. -- "Where do you want to be in five years?" asked Command Sgt. Maj. Kennis J. Dent, Army Communications-Electronics Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

He addressed more than 70 students enrolled in the Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, students at Havre de Grace Middle School to discuss the importance of getting a college education and how to best achieve their goals.

Students responded with a variety of answers, many of which included graduating from high school and attending the college of their choice.

"I learned that there are options with the military and they even have physical therapy and orthopedics…that's what I want to be," said Amari Barnes, 8th grade student and president of the AVID program at Havre de Grace Middle School.

Raising students' awareness of the career possibilities in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields has been made a priority among APG leaders, according to Dent.

In fact, the Department of Defense reports that more than half of the DoD personnel who work in STEM fields are over the age of 45 and will likely retire by 2020. STEM jobs have grown more than three times faster than that of non-STEM jobs over the last 10 years. Eight million STEM jobs are expected by the year 2018.

"We must prepare our students to meet the global technology needs for our country to remain competitive and maintain our national security," Dent explained. "The Army, and APG, is committed to doing just that."

Aberdeen Proving Ground sponsors a variety of STEM outreach programs, including running the Army's eCybermission program, a web-based science, mathematics, and technology competition for in 6-9th grade students that promotes self-discovery and enables all students to recognize the real-life applications of science, math and technology. The Army Research Laboratory, also located at APG, sponsors the GEM, or Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science program, an extracurricular science education program enabling students to experience science in a real laboratory setting.

"I know many of you play video games and may even have smartphones," said Dent. "But what if you were able to develop the software that makes those games and phones run? That's what studying, dedication and college will allow you to do."

And preparation starts early.

Dent highlighted the importance of good study habits and drove home the value of getting good grades and maintaining the balance between their academics and friends.

"You have to be a leader and a follower," said Dent. "When your friends do something wrong, tell them you won't do it and why they shouldn't do it."

He encouraged students to not lose their focus and realize the importance of having a plan.

"Set your goals and the path you need to take to achieve those goals," said Dent. That's the value students participating in the AVID program are taught, according to Andrea Obenschain, Havre de Grace Middle School Teacher and AVID Site Coordinator.

"Students who participate in this program have to want to be here," she explained. AVID students are required to do more as it relates to organization and study skills and instilling the value of self-development and determination, according to Obenschain.

"Our students are pushed a little harder to challenge them academically and given access to tutors to help support them as they work to meet new challenges and increased workloads," she explained. "We want them to develop the skills necessary to go to and be successful in college."

Dent left students with three things to focus on. The first--set your standards and goals and meet them. Second, be disciplined in what you do, and finally, always have respect for yourself and others.

For more information about Army Educational Outreach Programs, visit

Page last updated Mon November 26th, 2012 at 14:25