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Student or sergeant? This Bearcat shows it’s possible to do both.

Each individual at Baruch College is different from everyone else. However, there are some who are truly unique. Thanisha Mitchell is one of these distinct students; she is not only a college student but is also serving in the U.S. Army. Mitchell, a sergeant, walked during the graduation ceremony this past spring and is now taking the remaining two classes for her marketing major.

She is scheduled to go on deployment sometime next year, which is why it is fortunate that she is so close to receiving her full degree. If she were still taking classes, she would still have to go when called, and she’d be forced to take time off from school.

Mitchell is a reservist in the military, which means that she is more similar to regular civilians than those in the Army who are on active duty.

The Bearcat only gets called in for training so she can maintain a regular lifestyle in the meantime. Every reservist is required to train for one weekend every month for a drill and complete an annual training that can take up to a week or a month depending on the type of work that will be done there. These trainings are held in order to keep the unit prepared for deployment. Reservists do a series of activities, including practicing on the rifle range and in the gas chamber and enduring physical fitness tests.

Due to the monthly and annual trainings, reservists need to be good at time management. Drills and training can interfere with schoolwork because it is almost impossible to do work when you go on the field. For this reason, she sometimes had to request extensions from professors for weekends that were solely dedicated to training.

Mitchell first started at Baruch in 2004 but left school in 2006 to take part in the delayed entry program for the Marine Corps. In December 2006, she started the boot camp program for the Marine Corps to find some direction in her life, as she did not know what else to do. At the time, she had already completed her associate degree — which makes it easier for people who have one to get promoted compared with those who did not have a college degree.

Her time as a recruit in the boot camp program was chaotic. She was not allowed to see her family for five months until the day before her graduation.

She was also almost dropped from the program because she had trouble understanding commands, since English is not her first language. However, her struggle and the way she overcame it has inspired her sister to join the Army.

After training and the boot camp, she officially started serving in August 2007 when she joined the Marine Corps and stayed there for 10 years. In 2011, while in the Marine Corps, Mitchell decided to leave Baruch so she could focus more on being in the Reserve forces. She wanted to give her full attention to just one thing at the time and decided that the Marine Corps was more important.

While Mitchell was in the Marine Corps, she held a job as a supply admin clerk.

Mitchell is now in her first year of a six-year contract to stay in the Army. Now that she is in the Army, her next goal is to be a transportation coordinator for which she needs to go to school for about two months anytime during the year as long as there is a spot open in the training program.

There are a couple of programs that help pay for tuition for those serving in the military. Two of these are the Go Army Ed program, which Mitchell has been using since 2017, and the GI Bill for veterans. The former pays for all of Mitchell’s tuition as long as she is taking 16 credits.

September 4, 2018

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Sahar Ilyas


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