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News | June 12, 2024

Inaugural Career Exploration Event Opens New Horizons for National Capital Region Home School Students

By 1SG Immacula Pierre, 12th Battalion & Baltimore MEPS senior enlisted advisor

Baltimore Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), in collaboration with various military and educational partners, has taken a significant step towards embracing underserved home school demographic within the National Capital Region (NCR).

The Northern Virginia Community College - Alexandria Campus buzzed with the pioneering spirit of the first-ever event aimed at connecting home school students with a multitude of career opportunities, including those in the military.

The event addressed a long-standing challenge faced by home schooling families: the lack of access to the standardized testing opportunities that public and many private schools offer. The event was sponsored by the 1st Recruiting Battalion and orchestrated by Nancy Jean-Louis, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army Virginia North, and Natalie Mack, President of the Fort Belvoir Home Educators. The occasion was marked by opportunity and optimism.

Eager to explore their future ambitions, 24 home schoolers from across the NCR participated in this event, with the added bonus of being able to immediately discuss post-test pathways with onsite experts to include Daniel Zhu, test coordinator for Baltimore MEPS, and Ivette Zapata-Smalls, Educator School Specialist of 1st Recruiting Battalion. Of these pathways, military options were prominent, but the forge of potential was heated with discussions about certifications, licensure, college and federal occupations.

"For so long, these bright, capable young people have been an untapped market for us," stated Educational Services Specialist (ESS) Shannon Pierre from Baltimore MEPS. "Today marks an inspiring milestone not only for them but for us as a community."

These students, often bereft of the chance to test in public and many private high schools, brought the event to a successful crescendo, achieving an average Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score of 52—an indication of the high aptitude within the home-schooling community.

The event set the stage for direct interaction, inviting 1st Sgt. Trevor Boothe and other dedicated recruiters from the 7B Recruiting Company out of Alexandria. They seized the moment to engage in meaningful dialogue with the students and their parents about opportunities within the armed forces, shining a light on a path less traveled by home schooled students.

In the wake of this pilot event, there are plans afoot to not only make it biannual but to secure a Memorandum of Understanding with a permanent facility to ease the logistics of conducting such an essential offering.

In the effort to broaden this outreach, Mack has initiated talks with the Headquarters Team to expand the home school testing program across the US and Europe.

"The feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive," noted Mack, beaming with enthusiasm as she detailed plans for post-test interpretation sessions that would allow students to swiftly tailor their career trajectories without delay.

The initiative by Baltimore MEPS can be summed up in their motto, excellence starts here, reflecting their commitment to laying strong foundations for the futures of all students. As pioneers in this endeavor, Baltimore MEPS and all involved have lit a beacon of excellence for others to follow, eagerly anticipating the role this event will play in sculpting the leaders of tomorrow.