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Haleigh Wagman will be the first female infantry officer produced by an ROTC program in Oregon

SOU graduate is Oregon’s first female, ROTC-trained infantry officer

Haleigh Wagman knew long before her graduation from SOU last year that she was on track for something special, but she chose to keep it to herself until the accomplishment was in sight. That happened in the fall of 2019, when Wagman – a four-year Army ROTC participant – let others at SOU know she would become the first female infantry officer produced by an ROTC program in Oregon.

“I knew since the beginning of my sophomore year that it was what I was going to do,” she said. “I kept it a secret until the beginning of my senior year, when we had to announce what (field) we were choosing.

“I wanted to be given opportunities based on my own merit and reputation that came from my military knowledge, academic abilities and physical fitness.”

Wagman, now a second lieutenant in the Texas Army National Guard in San Marcos, is assigned to the Infantry Basic Officer course at Fort Benning, Georgia, and will officially become the first Oregon ROTC-trained female infantry officer when she completes the course in May.

She will then return to her 141st Infantry Battalion until she begins post-graduate studies in August. She has received offers from the Medical Science doctoral program at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, and from the Integrated Biomedical Sciences doctoral program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Wagman graduated from SOU last summer with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. She credits the ROTC program for helping her build discipline, and faculty members in SOU’s STEM Division for challenging her academically.

“Dr. (Patrick) Videau is awesome; he always keeps things real with students and is entertaining to learn from,” Wagman said. “He and Dr. (Brie) Paddock both go out of their way in order to get students the help they need, and are both key players in my love for science and reasons for pursuing graduate school.”

Despite her love for science, it was athletics that initially attracted Wagman to SOU. Raiders volleyball coach Josh Rohlfing is a family friend who was in her parents’ wedding, and she came to Ashland to play volleyball after graduating from North Valley High School in Grants Pass.

“My dad actually was an assistant coach (at SOU) for a couple years while I was in middle school,” Wagman said. “So with that and growing up in the Rogue Valley, I felt pretty familiar with the school coming into it.”

She needed to pay for college, so planned ahead and finished high school early, joined the Oregon Army National Guard and attended Basic Combat Training before starting at SOU. The National Guard awarded a four-year scholarship that paid for full tuition and fees, and by joining the ROTC program she became eligible for its no-cost housing plan, which at the time was in Susanne Homes Hall.

“I think the thing I enjoyed most about SOU was living in the ROTC dorms,” she said. “It allowed for us to have our own culture and space that was quieter for waking up early in the mornings and building friendships through shared experiences.”

She found that the biggest challenge of her undergraduate experience at SOU was compensating for the fact that she came out of high school without any college credits and had a full schedule of required coursework in both military science for ROTC and biology for her major. She also needed to graduate in four years.

“I was at 20 to 22 credits a term, and oddly enough I actually got the best grades those terms,” Wagman said. “I think it’s because I have poor time management when left to my own devices, but when I was that busy it forced me to manage my time well and get things done.

“The ROTC program has helped with my time management and leadership skills,” she said. “Both (the ROTC and Army National Guard) scholarships required that I stayed physically fit, morally qualified and academically qualified. Those things helped push me in school and keep me on track to graduate and receive my commission as a second lieutenant in the Army.”

Veterans and the SOU Community


NEWS BRIEF
(Ashland, Ore.) — On Veterans Day, some pertinent notes about veterans and Southern Oregon University:

  • SOU’s Veterans Resource Office will host a Veterans Day Reception at noon today in the Rogue River Room of the Stevenson Union. Speakers will include SOU President Linda Schott.
  • A total of 247 of the 6,200 students at SOU this term are military-affiliated – primarily, either veterans or dependents who are eligible to receive veterans’ benefits. About 30 of them serve as cadets in SOU’s Army ROTC program. SOU also has a robust Military Science Program, which offers about 10 courses and serves in the neighborhood of 150 students per term.
  • Innovative Educators, a Colorado firm that supports academic and professional growth in higher education, honored four veteran students from around the U.S. in its online newsletter this week. Two of them – veteran U.S. Marine Corps infantryman Justin Jones and veteran U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chris Vorgang – are SOU students.

Here is what Innovative Educators said about Jones and Vorgang:
Justin Jones, Southern Oregon University 
Justin Jones is currently enrolled as a full time student at Southern Oregon University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Prior to this venture, Justin served as an infantryman in the United States Marine Corps supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Serving for a single enlistment, Justin received an honorable discharge after 4 years active duty. Currently, Justin is employed at the Veterans Resource Office at SOU where he assists fellow veterans in utilizing VA educational benefits. Future aspirations include attending graduate school at Portland State University with the desired goal of employment within the finance sector of the automotive industry. Justin also has a strong passion for flight and is hoping to earn his pilot’s license in the near future. In his free time, Justin enjoys long walks with his German Shepherd, Mattis.
Chris Vorgang, Southern Oregon University
Chris Vorgang was born in Anaheim, CA in 1983, but was raised in Medford, OR most of his life. After dropping out of college in 2004, Chris joined the Army and was trained as an Intelligence Analyst. He deployed twice to Iraq and implemented his training to triangulate cell phones. Chris spent the last three years of his eight-year enlistment in the Army at the Defense Intelligence Agency in D.C. as an Iraqi Security Forces Analyst contributing to the President’s Daily Brief. In 2011 he met his stunningly beautiful wife, Jill. After his military service, Jill followed him back to Medford where they began raising their daughter Scarlett, and three years later their son Ivan. Realizing he wanted to contribute to the Social Work field, he quit his job and returned to Southern Oregon University to finish his degree in Psychology and started working at the Veterans Resource Office (VRO) on campus. After his deployments he tended to avoid social situations and kept to himself. Fortunately, he started hanging out at the VRO more and more. It felt great to be around like-minded individuals that could understand how difficult the transition to civilian life can be. He now manages the VRO, and is able to certify student Veterans who want to pursue their educational goals. He realized that supporting Veterans was a passion of his. Chris is almost done with his Psychology degree, and is planning to attend Portland State University to pursue Social Work.
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About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University is a medium-sized campus that provides comprehensive educational opportunities with a strong focus on student success and intellectual creativity. Located in vibrant Ashland, Oregon, SOU remains committed to diversity and inclusion for all students on its environmentally sustainable campus. Connected learning programs taught by a host of exceptional faculty provide quality, innovative experiences for students. Visit sou.edu.

SOU ROTC Program Tops Nation in Guard Scholarships

rotc-gold (1)(Ashland, Ore.) –National Guard Officer Strength Management in Washington, DC has named the ROTC GOLD program at Southern Oregon University top program for Guard and Reserve scholarship awards.  ROTC programs at more than 140 colleges and universities offer Guard and Reserve scholarships- SOU has surpassed all in “Citizen Soldier” scholarship offers.
SOU has eleven cadets with scholarship awards in the year 2013 group, the most of any college participating.
“I would like to thank President Mary Cullinan and SOU for making this possible,” says Lt. Col. Keith Ensley, the head of SOU’s ROTC program. “This is a tremendous achievement and will increase our national visibility.” As a result of the award, the SOU cadre will be featured in an upcoming issue of Guard Experience, the National Guard magazine.
A year ago Army ROTC awarded three SOU students the first ROTC scholarships at SOU in more than 20 years. ROTC was discontinued at SOU in the early 1990s due to the Army’s reduction in forces.
SOU now has the only ROTC program between Sacramento and Eugene.
Most ROTC scholarships available at SOU are full tuition, three-year scholarships worth more than $18,000 per year.
ROTC is the U.S. Army officer program available through the Military Science program at SOU. Enrollment requires a military service obligation – in the active Army, National Guard, or Army Reserve. ROTC is not an undergraduate degree program; it is a program that runs parallel to a student’s academic major.  Every student enrolled in ROTC receives a minimum college scholarship starting at $5,000 per year.
ROTC students training to become Army officers also take courses in other subjects such as political science, history, and philosophy. These courses help to broaden their understanding and prepare them to be better officers.