Alumni say NC State helped shape their military careers

September 21, 2012
By Bill Krueger

Alumni from different branches of the military, speaking at the Park Alumni Center this afternoon, credited NC State with shaping their roles as military leaders.

Speaking on a panel as part of NC State’s Military Appreciation events to help mark the university’s 125th anniversary, five NC State graduates shared their memories of the university and how their time on campus helped shape their careers. Retired Army Gen. Dan McNeill, Navy LTJG Megan Bittner, Air Force Capt. Taylor Francis, Marine Maj. Dwayne Lancaster and Maj. Gen. Greg Lusk, adjutant general of the N.C. National Guard, spoke to a group of alumni, university officials and ROTC students.

All of the panelists agreed that NC State provided them with not only an invaluable education, but also a chance to develop lasting relationships, engage in their communities and work on personal development that would prove crucial to their military careers.

McNeill ‘68, who completed 40 years of active service before recently retiring, said NC State reinforced and polished the concept of right and wrong that his parents originally instilled in him.

“If you buy into the concept that America is an experiment in democracy, then NC State is a microcosm of American culture,” McNeill said. “You begin to truly appreciate at NC State that life is a constant struggle, and regardless of what you are dealt you have to find a state of grace.”

Although graduating more than 40 years later, Bittner ’10 highlighted many of the same qualities of an NC State education. “The educators here take care to provide fantastic educations, foster people and professionals and work to develop you personally,” she said. “The military has a focus on integrity, absolute honesty, moral courage and commitment, which is nothing new it was just enforced in a different way at NC State.”

Francis ‘04, a former Caldwell Fellow and Jefferson Scholar at NC State, said NC State taught him how to learn. “When I got to the military I knew how to be successful in the education and training process,” he said. “There’s a kind of self-sacrifice mentality at NC State that helped shape me and guide me to where I am today.”

Echoing the idea that relationships formed a large part of the NC State experience, Lancaster ’98 said his education prepared him to be a better leader. “The commitment that so many different people have shown me here helped me with my integrity in training Marines to the best of their abilities,” Lancaster said. “I was taught that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope.”

Lusk ’83 highlighted the variety of experience that NC State gave him. “I learned self-discipline, focus, priorities and social experience,” he said. “The diligence and commitment I was able to have in the first few weeks of being deployed in Baghdad all emanates from the foundation of a great university.”

– Jamie Gnazzo

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