Mentorship program pairs local Army unit with DOD schools

by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta
7th CSC Public Affairs Office, 21st TSC

Chemicals, formulas and flames were the focus of 18 Soldiers from the 7th Civil Support Command’s 773rd Civil Support Team and more than a dozen Kaiserslautern High School freshmen who met as part of the ongoing 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s mentorship program, Jan. 28-29 and Jan. 31. The mentorship program began within the 21st TSC in 2010, and offers Soldiers an opportunity to share their life experiences with high school students. With the 773rd CST being the 7th CSC’s chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialists, meeting with the chemistry students was a perfect mix.

“It was a great opportunity for us to get out in the local community and interact with the high school students and for them to ask us questions about how chemistry relates to our job in the military,” said Sgt. Brandon Taylor, 773rd CST and Chicago native. “It was a good learning experience for them and now they know what they learn in chemistry class can help them achieve future career goals and opportunities.”

The Soldiers and students worked on chemical equations during the first two days in the classroom. On the third day, they conducted a flame test that involved teams of two Soldiers and three students identifying elements (compounds) by their color using a blue flame in the KHS chemistry lab.

“It was fun working with the Soldiers, getting to know them,” said Robert Brown, KHS freshman and Chicago native. “It was fun to try to teach them balanced equations. I want to teach math and science in the future.”

“I think the experience was very fun and interesting,” said Zarrian Fields, KHS freshman and Killeen, Texas, native. “I learned that different elements can turn and change into different colors when burned by propane.” This was an opportunity for the students to talk to the Soldiers about career opportunities in the CBRN field, said Cynthia Jackson, class instructor and Houston, Texas native, who has a doctorate in education. “It gives them an outlook of what the future can be.” Jackson said her students often ask why do they need to learn how to balance equations and mix chemicals?

“Well, there’s a job in the real world that relates to this,” said Jackson. “We get to mentor each other.” Lt. Col. Leslie Dillard, the 773rd CST commander and Huntsville, Ala., native, echoed the informational cross-exchange between the students and Soldiers.  “This is the first time that the 773rd CST has been involved in the mentorship program,” said Dillard. “Mentorship programs are important to the development of not only the students but also to the Soldiers. Sharing life’s experiences with our future keeps them engaged.”

The 773rd CST has planned a field trip to Rhine Ordnance Barrack in April when students will spend a day with the Soldiers to experience a day in the life of a CBRN and hazardous material technician. “It’s nice to have people around me that know what they’re doing,” said Abbi Charpentier, KHS freshman and Houma, La., native. “We’d like them to come back.