By Margo Myers
U.S. Army Master Sergeant Levester Charles, Sr. is this year’s recipient of Brandman University’s Soldier Scholar Award at Joint Base Lewis McChord, recognized at a ceremony on base on Nov. 21. Brandman University leaders at the JBLM campus chose MSG Charles, Sr. based on his solid 3.6 grade point average, his attitude towards his studies and his professionalism.
“I’m still marveling over it!” says Charles, Sr. “I asked ‘why me?’ I thought it would go to a younger soldier, but it’s recognition for being diligent and going the extra mile.” Charles is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and expects to graduate in late 2014.
“Master Sergeant Charles is serious about his education,” says Mary Ann Bardoni-Barbe, Brandman University’s campus director at JBLM. “He is taking an opportunity to better himself both personally and professionally.”
Charles was inspired to get his degree when he realized it would provide more opportunities on the job. “I know I need more education to move up,” says Charles. “I’m driven, but I’m a procrastinator until I get started. Once I start, I won’t quit until I’m done.”
MSG Charles, Sr. is originally from Galveston, Texas. He’s served in the U.S. Army for more than 25 years, completing numerous assignments at Fort Sill, OK, Fort Bragg, NC, and at Fort Lewis, WA. He’s held positions outside the military in both warehouse management, and in human resources. Charles is active in the Army Reserves, and when he’s not serving with the 1st Mobilization Brigade, he works for the Department of Veterans Affairs Puget Sound as a warehouse manager.
Charles chose Brandman University because of its convenient and blended classes. He knew he wanted supervision and guidance, and that he learns better in a classroom situation. When he talked to Bardoni-Barbe, Charles discovered he could graduate in two years. “That was huge,” he says. “Mary Ann has been instrumental in helping me succeed.”
MSG Charles, Sr. encourages others who are considering pursuing a college degree to “just do it.” He advises others to find something they are passionate about, and take one class at a time. “I always tell my soldiers, college isn’t for everyone, but everyone should try college.”