Pittsburgher Traci Rue enthusiastically undertook three minors in a multidisciplinary studies curriculum during her undergraduate education and never imagined it would lead to driving heavy trucks.
She started off with a strong start in college, backed by scholarships, and had a GPA well above 3.5 entering her senior year.
Then her scholarship money ran out, and she still had an intense desire to finish her undergraduate studies and to pursue a graduate education.
So, she joined the National Guard. She is with the West Virginia National Guard's 1201st Forward Support Co., based at Camp Dawson, near Kingwood, W.Va. She has been trained to drive very large military vehicles.
"Joining the Guard was a difficult decision, really, but I thought long and hard about it," she said. "My mother was concerned because at that time the nation was involved in Iraqi Freedom. But I believe I made the right decision. I've gained leadership experience, enhanced my own discipline and created great connections. Plus, I've been able to serve my country."
Sgt. 1st Class John Slaven is Rue's non-commissioned officer. He said it is rather uncommon for students to enlist in the Guard late in their academic careers.
"Most soldiers join the Guard prior to going to college, and the Guard then pays 100 percent of their tuition," commented Slaven. "If a soldier has already attended college and has loans, the Guard will pay a percentage of the loans. Also, with the Montgomery GI Bill and the Kicker program (educational aid incentives) the soldier can receive extra money for college."
Plus, they can learn to drive trucks, although Rue doesn't see that as a career path. She hopes to get started with a profession in international human resources management and to someday be executive vice president of a Fortune 100 company. That path will begin next August when she graduates, and she accepts that it may be a long one. "Being vice president is my long-term goal," she said, "maybe 25 years down the line. I know there's a lot of work ahead before I attain that."
She said an MBA trip to China "opened my eyes to the opportunity that is out there" in the international arena and that she has had some wonderful professors during her time at the College of Business and Economics, among them, Dr. Karen Donovan.
"Karen France is an outstanding role model for a professional woman, and I'm astounded by her work-life balance," Rue commented. She said she was also helped to achieve her educational goals by Drs. Nicholas Apostolou, who "always made sure I had a grasp of the material;" Jeff Houghton, "an amazing mentor always with an open-door;" and Neil Bucklew who "is a wealth of information and quotes that have in my mind forever to refer to in the real world."
She also acknowledged the College's executive-in-residence William Hutchison. "He hasn't even been my professor yet, but he's been a great help to me, especially in my job search," she said.
Rue, a dual-degree student in the MBA and MSIR programs, was vice president of her MBA class and is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management. She is a vice president and active in public service activities with the Morgantown graduate chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., and she has been given high praise from her Guard leadership.
"Ms. Rue is one of the very best young soldiers that I have worked with," Slaven said. "She pays attention to detail and completes all missions to their fullest. I am very proud of Traci, and I know that she will always make the West Virginia Army National Guard and the United States proud. I know that she will go far in life."