Soldier of the Year’s dream, impact lives of inner city kids

Story by Sgt. Alexa Becerra, Task Force Longrifles Public Affairs

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Cpl. De’Marcus Hopson poses for a picture after graduating from Warrior Leader Course, which was held at Camp Lemonnnier, Djibouti. (Photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti — Throughout history, teaching has been considered one of the most noble of careers. Teachers work long hours, live on a modest salary yet the impact they have on the future of our country by teaching the youth is immeasurable.

Another noble profession is that of a Soldier. They endure long hours, hardships, and separation from their families, also have a modest salary and are willing to give their lives for their country.

The dream of one young Kentucky man is to be become both. Cpl. De’Marcus Hopson, a native of Madisonville, Ky., is a National Guard Soldier from the 2138th Forward Support Company currently deployed to the Horn of Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  He is also a full-time student at Kentucky State University, majoring in Secondary Social Studies education with a double minor in African American Studies and Speech Communication.

“I plan on teaching at an inner-city school,” said Hopson. “The military has a program called Troops to Teachers, where you have a commitment to teach at an inner city school for two to three years with military incentives, benefits and stipends.”

Although he will be participating in this program that requires Soldiers to teach at inner-city schools for a certain amount of time, Hopson said he has always wanted to teach in that type of environment.

“I feel very strongly about teaching because growing up, I can count with one hand how many male teachers I had,” said Hopson. “Also, to teach in an urban, poverty stricken community you need to be able to connect with the kids.“

Hopson is very passionate about teaching at inner-city schools because he feels that he has what it takes to connect with those students because of his military background, and he also says that he does not have the middle-class mentality which most new teachers have and try to enforce when they teach inner-city students.

Hopson is very active at his school. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and also plays in the university’s marching band, the Mighty Marching Thorobred Band.

Furthermore, he is also a model Soldier. His father was in the military, and Hopson thought he would never join the military because his father was always gone on deployments. He said he initially joined the Guard to pay for school, but since he’s been in the reason for joining has changed.

“I believe that everybody should serve their country,” said Hopson. “This is a great opportunity to learn and grow, develop discipline and leadership skills, time management, and also get your school paid for.”

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Hopson, second from left, is pictured here with his family. His father, first from left, served in the military for 21 years. (Courtesy photo)

Hopson was selected as Soldier of the Year for the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery, and next is the competition for Soldier of the Year for the State of Kentucky.

“The board consisted of a wide array of questions, from military funeral procedures to weapons training,” said Hopson. “I had three sources I studied from: the battalion history packet, material from the Warrior Leader Course, and then the Army board packet as well.”

Hopson was first selected for a company board out of his platoon for his outstanding leadership skills, military bearing, among other things such as physical fitness scores. He won that board, and then competed against the four other batteries in the battalion.

In addition to participating in these boards, and being a team leader providing security for the Ammunition Supply Point here at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Hopson also participated in the Warrior Leader Course held here.

“I really appreciate being able to go through the Warrior Leader Course while deployed,” said Hopson. “I learned a lot more in depth about leadership abilities and skills, which will help me a lot in my military and civilian career.”

Hopson, the second out of six children, hopes to finish his school within the next year and a half, and also plans to stay in the Guard until retirement. He said he would recommend the Guard and the military in general, to everyone.

“The Guard is enabling me to serve my country and go to school at the same time,” said Hopson. “And it also is helping me accomplish my dream of being a teacher.”

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