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Military Service Paves the Way for Graduate’s Achievement at UC’s Commencement Ceremony

Christopher Hawks’ military service took him around the world and provided the opportunity to return to his hometown university to achieve a diploma.

Date: 12/7/2009
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Lisa Ventre
A longtime UC Bearcat fan, Christopher Hawks of New Richmond, Ohio, says he didn’t have the GPA or the money to get to college when he graduated from high school 14 years ago. He hoped that joining the Army would give him the discipline and the opportunity to achieve a higher education. He’ll celebrate that milestone when the 32-year-old active-duty soldier marches at the University of Cincinnati December Commencement Ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 12, in Fifth Third Arena.
Christopher Hawks
Christopher Hawks

Hawks is graduating with a bachelor of science in Criminal Justice from UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH).

Hawks is also one of four UC ROTC Army cadets who will take part in a December commissioning ceremony the day before Commencement. He’ll be sworn into office as a second lieutenant of the U.S. Army in a special ceremony at 4:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 11, in the Annie Laws Room (Room 407) of the Teachers College.

Hawks’ military service took him to bases around the nation including in Oklahoma, Texas and California, as well as around the world to South Korea and Germany. He maintained active military status at UC while earning his degree through the Army’s Green to Gold Active Duty Program, which also provided the opportunity for training to achieve the leadership status of second lieutenant through UC’s Army ROTC program. He had been earning part-time college credit on full-time military duty when he could, and transferred to UC as a full-time student in January 2008.

Christopher Hawks

“I love the law. It’s similar to military structure,” he says, of his pursuit of a degree in criminal justice. A year-and-a-half before he entered UC, he was mapping out his college career with support from the CECH Student Services Center.

Richard Stackpole, assistant dean of Student Affairs and Support Services for CECH, would certainly support the notion that the discipline that Hawks wanted to gain in the Army led to the success that brought him to Commencement. “His follow-through is amazing,” Stackpole says. “We advise our students to meet quarterly with their academic advisors and get involved on campus, and he did it. Sometimes, he’d meet with his advisors twice in one quarter, just to check on how he was doing in his classes. His dedication, his discipline and his consistent communication with his academic advisors to discuss his academic planning all were impressive.”

Hawks adds that it was that support and direction from UC advising that helped him stay on track to achieve his college degree.

UC aims to become a preeminent destination for America’s veterans – a result of the UC task force announced a year ago to establish a UC admissions and support plan in line with the GI Bill and the Ohio GI Promise that Governor Ted Strickland signed into effect in July 2008. The university seeks to increase by 25 percent over the next five years the enrollment of student-veterans and in addition, provide quality and support services to lead them to their march at Commencement.

“Cadet Hawks has brought a wealth of knowledge into the classroom during his two years with the Bearcat Battalion,” says Lieutenant Colonel Randy F. Judd, professor of Military Science. “The entire ROTC battalion has had the opportunity to learn from Chris Hawks’ 10 years of Army experience as a soldier, non-commissioned officer and former officer leadership instructor.” 

Hawk’s seven-year-old son, Brendn, will be flying in from Texas to witness his father’s achievement. His mother and brother plan to attend the ceremony as well.

Hawks’ assignment after commissioning will take him to the Camp Casey 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea, 1st Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) next August. Before leaving for South Korea, he will be attending the Military Intelligence Basic Officer Leader Course in Ft. Huachuca, Ariz.

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