UASG DAEGU, South Korea - Leadership! What does that word mean? We hear it, all the time, but do we ever stop and really think about its meaning?
Well, 1st Sgt. Scott Tate, the first sergeant for the 55th Military Police Company, Camp Casey, Dongducheon, Korea, 94th MP Battalion, Camp Humphreys, Pyeongtaek, Korea, knows what that word really means.
During his more than 15 years in the U.S. Army, Tate has learned that leadership doesn't come in the form of wearing a rank that might identify one as a leader just by virtue of wearing such rank. Leadership to him means much more than that. It means taking action and being proactive in helping others by showing them the way.
"At my last unit, I turned my company conference room into a makeshift education center," said Tate. "During Fiscal Year 2016, I had four computers installed in there with Internet access so that any Soldier who wanted to or needed to get college work or military education done, could. It was open 24-hours a day and that made it very convenient for them. It also made it very difficult for them to come up with excuses for not signing up for higher education course work."
Although some might say, that's what he's supposed to do as a 1st Sgt., and maybe so, but how many leaders actually do it? And those who might be doing something similar, are they influential enough to be getting tangible results?
"Over the course of FY17, I had all the Soldiers assigned to my company sign up for college," Tate said. "They didn't have to complete any courses if they didn't want to, but my point was to show them how easy it was to get started."
"During that period of time and going back into FY16, Soldiers from my company who did signed up for college classes logged in over 2,000 college credit hours," he said.
What he did for his Soldiers wasn't something he emulated from someone, he did it because he knows how hard it was for him to attend college.
Tate was able to complete his bachelor's degree in about 6 years. He actually didn't begin going to college until he had been in the Army for about 2 and a half years. Having a full-time job in the military and making sure that he spends time with his 5 children and wife, makes going to college, rather challenging.
"I have been very fortunate to have been able to get all my college work done on my off-duty time, while at work," said Tate. "I would bring lunch to work and during lunch, I would close my door and do college work. Then I would stay after work, for an hour or so, working on college courses before heading home. That allowed me to focus on my family, when I was home."
"If something is really important to you, you will find a way to get it done," he said. "I have always tried to stress that to my Soldiers. You have to take advantage of the Educational opportunities while you can because, you never know how long you're going to be in the Army. A college education will help you both in and out of the Army."
Every year, each major installation across the Army, submits nominees for the Sgt. Maj. Larry L. Strickland Educational Leadership Award. There are two categories to the award, Sergeant (E-5) to Sgt. 1st Class (E-7) and Master Sgt. (E-8) to 1st Sgt. And Sgt. Maj. (E-9).
Tate was nominated by the command at his former unit at Fort Polk, Louisiana. The reason for his nomination was his tremendous influence of his Soldiers to pursue a higher education during FY17.
"All the submitted packets get reviewed by a panel of retired Sergeant Majors and retired officers with the Association of the United States Army or AUSA and eventually, they pick a winner," said Tate.
In the E-8 to E-9 category for FY17, that winner is Tate.
"My future goals are to finish my master's degree by April of 2018 and hopefully, in the future, get selected to serve in the Army as a sergeant major," he said. "However, my ultimate goal is to always do right by my family."
Tate is only four classes away from completing a master's degree of Arts in teaching.