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ASCC student has brighter future with Oregon Army National Guard help

(l-r): MSG Sheri Hoddle, Tauaitala Leasiolagi (the first Am Samoan 2020 National Guard enlistment), Fotuoatua Afioa’e, and ORARNG American Samoa recruiter SFC Steve Mann

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Oregon Army National Guard continues to help American Samoa’s students fulfill their dreams of attending college. On February 5th, the military branch enlisted v at the Konelio Pele Army Reserve Center in Tafuna.

According to SFC Steve Mann - the American Samoa recruiter for the Oregon Army National Guard - Afioa’e, like many other Samoan students, wishes to further his education by obtaining a college degree. The Oregon Army National Guard is able to help him by paying 100% of his tuition at Southern Oregon University (SOU).

“It was a good opportunity for me as a Samoan, knowing what they offer and provide. Military and school are my priority, so going to SOU and joining the Oregon National Guard at the same time really go hand in hand for the progression of my future,” said Afioa’e.

Southern Oregon University offers housing scholarships for those participating in ROTC and maintaining the standards set in place. ROTC is an opportunity for students to become officers in the United States Army, either as national guard reservist or active duty, after completing a bachelor’s degree.

“A lot of people that I know didn’t even know what the Oregon National Guard is—a lot look down on it but after understanding and learning more about it together with SOU, it really is as important and as prestigious as other branches of the Army and the U.S. military,” Afioa’e continued. “You have the option to go active duty right after you graduate from SOU and commission as an officer. So for those who want to go active, you can join the Oregon National Guard first and get college paid for. This is a great road to take to begin your journey.”

Afioa’e plans to participate in ROTC and take advantage of the housing scholarship plus 100% tuition assistance. He is on track to graduate from the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) this spring, after which he will ship to basic training, then return to SOU to continue his studies.

“I’m majoring in electronics and I plan on studying something closer to that area like electrical technology or engineering,” Afioa’e shared. “I’m also very interested to see what other majors SOU offers because I may want to do something else. Ultimately, I plan to have a good, stable job either in the military or civilian side because I know having a college degree and experience in the Oregon National Guard will benefit me no matter what I do.”

The Oregon National Guard is diligently working hand in hand with Southern Oregon University to provide opportunities for students to become part-time soldiers while attending college full time, according to SFC Mann. Students who enlist into the Oregon Army National Guard will be eligible for education benefits after completing training. They will be required to serve one weekend per month performing the job they choose in the military, while going to SOU full time to earn a bachelor’s degree.

(The Oregon National Guard looks to enlist high school seniors and ASCC students who meet the National Guard’s requirements. Applicants must have taken the ASVAB and scored 31 or above. The National Guard also requires that a height and weight standard be maintained. Candidates must be in generally good shape. More information can be obtained by contacting SFC Steve Mann at <>)