Dr. Silas Session had a long journey to becoming Morehead State’s new director of military initiatives that began when he was in middle school in Charleston, South Carolina. He befriended some high school students who were members of the Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC). Once he got to high school, he joined the organization himself.
“That really started my love for the military,” Session said. “I can see myself on campus one afternoon when I was in high school, and that’s when I made the decision that I wanted to be an Army officer.”
After high school, Session attended The Citadel, where he earned a degree in political science and government. The Citadel is unique from other military colleges. Cadets can enter any branch of the military after graduation or not enter the military at all. However, cadets are held to strict military standards, Session said.
“In addition to studying and the regimen of a normal college, we wore uniforms, we had drill and inspection and [physical training] P.T.,” he said. “It wasn’t easy, but the difficulty was a blessing and it was part of the enjoyment of the experience.” Session added he held rank and leadership positions the entire time he attended The Citadel and said those responsibilities helped shape his leadership development and personal growth.
After graduating, Session went through boot camp and was stationed at Fort Campbell as part of the 101st Airborne Division Artillery, and he considers that his best assignment. After training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Session was stationed at Fort Hood as part of the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion. Session was stationed at Fort Hood for eight years and during that time, he was deployed to Iraq twice and took his first company command, leading the forward support company of the battalion. In that position, Session oversaw logistics, transportation and maintenance for the battalion. Ever up for a challenge, Session spent a year in Command Staff General College at Fort Leavenworth, while at the same time earning his master’s degree in adult education from Kansas State University.
“That was difficult because it was almost like doing two master’s programs at once, but I enjoyed it,” he said.
Session’s last assignment was at Fort Knox, where he was a battalion executive officer and operations officer for the One-Six Field Artillery Battalion, and he said he finds it interesting he began and ended his 20-year military career in Kentucky.
After retiring from the military, Session worked as a senior associate for the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and as director of the Kentucky Labor Cabinet before coming to Morehead State in August 2019. He said several factors aligned that brought him to MSU.
It was a blessing of timing and the opportunity here. I’m glad to be here and do what I can to provide a great atmosphere for veteran students.– Dr. Silas Session
Session said the thing he likes best about Morehead State is that it offers students opportunities comparable to larger schools but has a small student-to-teacher ratio, which is particularly beneficial to veteran Eagles who oftentimes aren’t stereotypical college students.
“They’re nontraditional students. Some of them haven’t been to school in a while and some of them have to work a little harder at some of the general education requirements, as many other students do,” Session said. “MSU has so many high-ranked programs, like space systems engineering and nursing, that are really attractive to or really cater to the military student.”
Session said one of his goals is to connect military and veteran students and military dependents to one another and the community more.
“I’m looking at what we have and I’m taking advantage of it, but I also want to strengthen the connection with students more,” Session said. “I want to connect the student body with each other more and have all who are connected to the University not only say ‘we honor veterans,’ but to really put faces to who they’re honoring. I want them to see those student veterans.”
Session added he wants to work more closely with the Office of Enrollment Services to aid with recruiting veterans because MSU has a great support program in place to help them succeed in college. He also wants to work to strengthen connections between MSU and the military bases, National Guard units and veterans’ resources in the state. He said veteran students could provide concrete examples to other students about how they can apply what they learn in the classroom to the real world.
“Some of the things they study are things these veterans have done in real-world, sometimes wartime, environments, and I think that adds real value,” he said. “The veterans will leave here with a great education, but shame on us if we let them leave here without taking advantage of some of the skills, experience and knowledge they have. Veterans bring great value to wherever they go due to their comprehensive experience.”
Military students, veteran students and military dependents are welcome to visit the Lt. Col. Alan Baldwin Veterans Center, located in 304 Breckinridge Hall, to learn more about the resources available to them. To learn more, visit www.moreheadstate.edu/veterans, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 606-783-5226.