Maryville, Mo. – Two Northwest Missouri State University students are the first to graduate from the Guard Officer Leadership Development (GOLD) program.
According to a press release from Northwest, the program is a partnership that develops commissioned officers for the Missouri Army National Guard (MOARNG) and provides a pathway to degree completion.
Dylan Richardson, a senior nutrition and dietetics major from Savannah, Missouri, and Kylee Lang, a senior criminology major from Hinton, Iowa, were commissioned in September at the state capitol building in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Being one of the Northwest program’s first commissioned officers is meaningful, Lang said, and it laid a foundation for her leadership and future.
“I am setting a standard, and I can lead others to do the same,” Lang said. “I hope that people can look up to me and see that this can be the end goal.”
Richardson added, “The GOLD Program is a great way for people to gain leadership experience and further their career in the Army National Guard. It also gives you the tools to succeed through Officer Candidate School (OCS) and get your commission.”
Northwest and the MOARNG launched the GOLD Program in 2016. It develops qualified Missouri citizens into commissioned officers through classroom instruction, leadership laboratories and a physical conditioning program.
MOARNG administers the program at Northwest and provides a commissioned captain or major to serve as professor of military science while Northwest provides a primary instructor to oversee the academic areas of the program. Northwest’s program operates out of the Garrett-Strong Science Building, where Capt. Tamir Middleton serves as the officer in charge.
Participants attend military science classes during their freshman, sophomore and junior years at Northwest. During the summer between their junior and senior years, participants are required to attend accelerated OCS training, which consists of eight weeks of intensive leadership training in South Dakota.
“When Officer Richardson and I went to OCS, we had skills that we had learned from going through the GOLD Program that others didn’t,” Lang said. “I see the GOLD Program as a milestone. Anyone I talked to at OCS who went through the GOLD Program previously, you could definitely see a difference. They were more confident, more prepared and less stressed.”
Richardson plans to pursue a dietetics internship with his active duty Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Lang plans to stay in the military and continue her education by pursuing a master’s in forensic psychology.