Rogers State University GOLD Program Sees Record Growth

Rogers State University has a leadership program that’s as good as gold.

The Guard Officer Leadership Development (GOLD) program is the premier leadership program for Oklahoma National Guard soldiers attending Rogers State University.

In recent years, the program has seen record growth, with this semester boasting the highest number of officer candidates in the program’s history.

“Currently, we have 25 officer candidates enrolled in the GOLD program at RSU. This is the largest number of recruits we’ve ever had at once,” said Sergeant First Class (SFC) Ruben Gonzalez, National Guard member and non-commissioned officer in charge. “This speaks highly about the quality of the program and its benefits to those who go through it.”

The GOLD program provides academic leadership training which is built into the candidate’s college curriculum. During classes, leadership labs, physical training and field exercises, students learn firsthand what it takes to be a leader, to motivate groups and to conduct missions as an officer of the U.S. Army.

SFC Gonzalez, who has been with the program since 2019, said positive word of mouth has helped foster interest in the GOLD program and its benefits to potential candidates.

“Unlike regular National Guard recruits, GOLD program members are non-deployable through graduation, going through the drills with their unit here on campus and with their primary focus being on leadership. They get the (National Guard) tuition waiver, which pays for 100% of their tuition and fees, and OMA (Oklahoma Military Academy) alumni have established scholarship endowments and restricted scholarships to help with on-campus housing, books, and their board expenses, if funding is not available,” he said. “They receive paid training and all benefits of being in the military.”

After obtaining 90 college credits, officer candidates between their junior and senior year are given the opportunity to attend Officer Candidate School at historic Fort Meade in South Dakota or Fort McClellan in Alabama. Students then receive their commission and are promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. Their commission, combined with a degree from RSU, gives students increased opportunities in both their military and civilian careers.

“I joined the program in part to learn how to be a better leader, to gain knowledge to leverage my unique qualities and embrace any opportunity to challenge myself,” said Muldrow native Shailey Evans, RSU junior and RSU GOLD Program officer candidate. “In the time I’ve spent with the program so far, I’ve learned a lot about some of the main things I’ll be tested on at OCS (Officer Candidate School), such as land navigation, drill and ceremony, battle drills, operation orders and the qualities needed to be a good leader.

“GOLD (Program) gives all the candidates opportunities to be in student leadership positions and get a good experience of what the responsibility of being in charge of others consists of,” she continued. “I feel that has played a crucial part in my readiness and confidence to advance to pre-OCS, and then OCS this summer.”

Evans, a medical molecular biology major at RSU, also commended SFC Gonzalez and other GOLD Program members for exemplifying leadership and camaraderie.

Every year, GOLD Program candidates meet with members of the OMA Alumni Association at the annual OMA reunion.

“As has often been said, the truly great things in life are worth waiting for, and that’s certainly true when it comes to waiting so long to get boots back on the Hill,” said Dr. Danette Boyle, executive director of the OMA Alumni Association. “I can hardly wait every year until the OMA Alumni Reunion when alumni come home and meet one-on-one with our military students during our reunion weekend.

“It’s always exciting and a unique reunion for all when our alumni have the opportunity to meet their OMA legacy GOLD Program students,” she said.

SFC Gonzalez said his greatest satisfaction in being involved in the program is watching the growth of the recruits, both as individuals and as future soldiers.

“I enjoy training solders. It’s rewarding for me to watch them start out as freshmen – as young,
immature teenagers – and over time, see them mature and develop into disciplined officers,” he said.

“Being a member of the GOLD Program has helped instill more confidence in myself and my leadership skills, which enabled my ability to succeed at OCS and become a competent officer in the Army National Guard,” Evans said.

GOLD enlistment applicants are eligible for all Army National Guard incentives.

Combined with an RSU degree, completion of the GOLD program allows recruits to be a National Guard officer, with greatly increased career opportunities as a civilian, following their time in the service.

For more information about RSU’s GOLD program, visit

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