Oct 08, 2019

150 College of the Ozarks students experience CitizenTrip™ in Washington, D.C.

Students with Vice President Pence on steps of Eisenhower Executive Office Building
Vice President Mike Pence addresses College of the Ozarks students on the steps of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building near the West Wing of the White House. In front, College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis (left) stands with Vice President Pence, Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, chancellor of the University of Richmond, and Four-star General Terrence R. Dake, former Assistant Commandant of the US Marine Corps. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)
Vice President Mike Pence talks with students
Vice President Mike Pence talks with students during photo after their tour of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)
Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, WWII Veteran, addresses students
Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, WWII Veteran, addresses students from College of the Ozarks at the National Mall during their patriotic travel to Washington, D.C., as trip organizer Bryan Cizek looks on. (Photo by Shann Swift)
Student present roses to Dr. E. Bruce Heilman
Students Kandice Riley and Andrea Lowry present roses to Dr. E. Bruce Heilman after his presentation to students at the World War II Memorial at the National Mall. (Photo by Shann Swift.)
Student kneels by grave in Arlington National Cemetery
Nathan Sharon, junior biblical and theological studies major, kneels reverently before a grave in section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery. (Photo by Shann Swift)

Pilot program paves way for all future students to see nation’s capital

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks took 150 students to Washington, D.C., for a two-day, one-night intensive experience in our nation’s capital, Sept. 30 – Oct. 1, at no expense to the students. This pilot CitizenTrip paved the way for future students who will take this trip as part of the patriotic education curriculum at the College.

“The College is pleased to take a leadership role in making sure each of our students visits the nation’s capital,” said College President Jerry C. Davis. “Young people do not inherit knowledge of our exceptional country and its foundational principles; these things must be taught. Reading about places is one thing, but visiting them is quite another. Friends across America are making it possible for a new generation of young people to understand the sacrifices that have been made for all of us.”

The itinerary for the trip included stops at Arlington National Cemetery, Museum of the Bible, the White House, the United States Capitol, and the National Archives Museum. Students visited the National Mall, which includes the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Constitution Gardens, Washington Monument, and World War II Memorial.

Students meet Vice President Mike Pence

After a tour of the White House, students met Vice President Mike Pence and had their photo taken in front of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, located next to the West Wing of the White House. Pence later posted to social media, stating on Twitter, “Great meeting some amazing students from @CofOHardWorkU! These hard-working men and women are the future of America, keep up the great work!”

“Vice President Mike Pence encouraged me to never hide my Christian beliefs in any environment I may find myself a part of,” said junior Andrea Lowry, elementary education major. “His words, ‘Study hard but pray harder,’ really moved me. Hearing it in person from the vice president was a great reminder to keep my faith a priority.”

Senior engineering major Robby Jeffries was encouraged by the unique opportunity to meet the vice president.

“Having access to a leader like Pence was a privilege and honor,” Jeffries said.  “An experience like that will stay with me for a lifetime.”

Veterans share memories at the National Mall

At the World War II Memorial, longtime friend of the College Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, WWII Veteran and chancellor of the University of Richmond, shared with students his experiences as a Marine during WWII. Heilman fought in the Pacific Theater in both Okinawa and Iwo Jima.

“What it’s like to die for your country is not table talk, and it’s not for entertaining people,” Heilman said. “Very few people ever get told the real story of tremendous pain. You have to be engaged with what freedom is all about in order to fight for your country.”

In addition to his experiences and travels as a Marine in World War II in the South Pacific and Japan, Heilman has visited more than 140 countries, escorting travel groups abroad annually for more than 30 years. Heilman became chancellor at the University of Richmond on Oct. 1, 1988, after serving as president and chief executive officer for approximately 17 years.

Four-star General Terrence R. Dake, Vietnam Veteran and former assistant commandant of the United States Marine Corps, also shared with students while they visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the National Mall. Dake serves as the chairman of the College of the Ozarks Board of Trustees.

Dake advanced to the rank of general and assumed the position of assistant commandant, U.S. Marine Corps, in 1998. During his military service, he was presented with the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Navy Commendation Medal, among others. Dake flew countless missions during the Vietnam War and in Operation Desert Storm. He spent 34 years in the United States Marine Corps and served as pilot of Marine One for President Ronald Reagan.

“In the Vietnam War, we did not lose on the battlefield,” Dake said. “Those soldiers fought with courage and bravery. The war was lost in our hearts and minds. Americans lost the will to fight. It was the first time where we did not achieve our military objectives. If we ever go to war again, it must be a great enough cause that every American would stand behind it with full confidence and responsibility.”

Junior child studies major Lindy Fraker said the visit to the National Mall, hearing from Dake and Heilman, was her favorite part of the trip.

“My most impactful moment was the chance to go to the Vietnam and World War II Memorials and hear Veterans speak about their personal experiences,” Fraker said.  “To not only hear about it but to meet real people who went through the real thing was truly amazing. It is important to me that this College has a patriotic goal because without a foundation, history is bound to repeat itself. The patriotic goal solidifies our American identity.”

Bryan Cizek, director of patriotic activities and trip organizer, planned this trip for more than a year.

“The greatest reward of this trip is seeing the students’ faces and knowing the lasting impact that we have made in their lives,” Cizek said. “We are so blessed to have the opportunities that we have here at College of the Ozarks. What other institution in the country provides an experience like this? We heard from a WWII Veteran at the WWII Memorial, a four-star marine general at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the vice president of the United States of America just feet away from the West Wing of the White House. College of the Ozarks is leading the charge in providing a Christ-centered, patriotic education.”

Patriotic course requirements

Two unique courses serve as bookends to each student’s experience. Freshmen take a first course, Patriotic Education 103, which includes military science, civics, American history and government, current events, and the importance of the American economic system (capitalism). Seniors will take a second course, which is the CitizenTrip experience.

Dr. Marci Linson, vice president for patriotic activities and dean of admissions, said, “The trip was a complete success; we knew it would be because of the College’s commitment and dedication to programs like this. The most meaningful and precious part of this experience for me was traveling alongside a student who is a first-generation American and seeing her eyes light up at each and every turn on our journey. I can’t be more grateful to serve at a college that provides for its students so well. 

“Many of our students haven’t flown before nor have they traveled to a large, metropolitan area,” Linson said. “The opportunity to see our nation’s capital city and experience its history was a unique, hands-on opportunity to advance the College’s patriotic goal — to encourage an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibilities, love of country, and willingness to defend it.”