Running head: MENTORING FOR ACCESS AND PERSISTENCE
MENTORING FOR ACCESS AND PERSISTENCE
Salem State University
Instructor: Kevin Piskadlo
MENTORING FOR ACCESS AND PERSISTENCE 2
This paper will take an in depth look at the life of cadets at West Point and how they
navigate through some of the difficult hardships that exist at their military academy. The
Internet, and Books, I will showthe many challenges that future military men and women face
whilematuring into adults. I will explore the history of the military, and share some views and
opinions of the military academy known as West Point. I will introduce a program I designed to
implement at the academy West Point which will suggest some alternative approaches to use
when dealing with some of the issues at military academies. My intent with this analysis is to
raiseawareness regarding student/cadets transitioning throughmilitary institutions and how we
as civilians in society can assist them with this change and promote equality and fair play.
Keywords: Cadets, PTSD (Post, Traumatic, Syndrome, Disorder), Military
MENTORING FOR ACCESS AND PERSISTENCE 3
UNITED STATES SOLDIERS CREED
I am an American Soldier.I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior
tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America
in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.
This is an example of a Soldiers Creed. It is one of the first items learned upon entrance
in the military. Soldiers are required to know this passage word for word after being given
proper time to learn it. A commanding officer can request a soldier to recite this piece at any
given time. If a soldier fails this task, he could be subjected to harsh punishments. The text in
thiscreed is very strong and powerful language, and once learned, a soldier lives and dies by it.
After reading Absolutely American, I wondered how many soldiers/cadets have the same
feelings regarding the creed after they have completed their military career.
MENTORING FOR ACCESS AND PERSISTENCE 4
The United States military is one of the largest in the world. It draws its manpower from
a large pool of paid volunteers. It consists of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast
Guard. All of the branches work together during operations and joint missions under the
authority of the Secretary of Defense with the exception of the Coast Guard. From the time of its
inception, the military has played a decisive role in the country’s history. Many United States
citizens have dedicated their lives and careers to the armed forces, and have taken advantage of
many opportunities afforded to them for being associated with our forces.
One advantage the military offers for years of service is education. According to
Wikipedia, the G.I. Bill was implemented in the United States to provide many returning
veterans funding for their education. This initiative’s purpose was to assist men and women with
the sudden change to a postwar economy by improving job skills and incomes. There are many
advantages with serving in the military, Career Training Retirement, Discipline Training, and
Physical Benefits. If an individual is really excited about joining one of the armed force
branches, they could apply to what is known as a military academy. Currently, there are over
sixty some odd military academies in the United States. West Pointis one of the most prestigious
military academies in the country. West Point has been a part of the United States history since
the Revolutionary War. Former President George Washington played a key role in the creation
of this military academy. West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in
America. The institution currently serves a little over four thousand cadets, including male and
female genders, and has over sixty-five curriculum majors of study.
MENTORING FOR ACCESS AND PERSISTENCE 5
According to (Lipsky, 2004, p.6) “the mission at West Point is very simple, take civilians
and turn them into officers”. In today’s military society, that challenge is more difficult than
ever before. The military academies in the United States today have taken on a different look
and demeanor than in the past years. (Lipsky, 2004, p.7) suggest that, “when the draft ended in
1975, civilian culture and military culture lost track of each other”. Somewhere along the line
the military lost a lot of its appeal to the young men and women currently in society. I agree
with Lipsky’s statement regarding separation between society and the military. Forty to fifty
years ago former soldiers were looked upon differently, if you served in the military. Many men
and women looked at the armed forces as a viable and lucrative career. People of color had a
different opinion when asked about the military, but over time with media publicizing the many
problems and issues relating to the service, many people including minorities and people of color
have lost confidence in our branch services division.
According to (Lipsky, 2004, p.19), the evolution of West Point has under gone some
major changes as well. In the earlier years at West Point the institution was built on toughness.
It was almost expected that the upperclassmen would abuse the under classmen. (Lipsky 2004,
p. 21) “suggest that physical harassment, verbal abuse and hazing were the norms at West point”.
Privates or Plebes were constantly abused during their first year. The administration itself
orchestrated their own kind of hazing ritual. Many first year cadets would opt to urinate in the
sink in their rooms rather than risk a walk down the hallway to the bathroom, for fear of being
seen by an upperclassmen and being hazed.
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Life at a military academy can be daunting to new arrivals. In a cadets first year, he or
she is taught to view their surroundings through a very small lens. Superior officers are not
interested in hearing your opinion. Your job is to basically keep your mouth closed and follow
the orders that are given to you. This method or tactic can be closely related to Perry’s Model of
Dualism. According to (Evans, Forney, Guido, Patton, and Renn, 2010, p. 86) Perry suggest that
“Dualism is a mode of meaning making in which the world is viewed dichotomously: good –
bad, right – wrong, black - white”. The military is set up that way by design. The reason for this
way of life is probably due to the fact that during a war, decisions must be made swiftly and with
the utmost precision. Because lives are on the line, the individuals involved do not have a lot
time to dabble in the grey areas. (Lipsky, 2004 p. 34) suggest that at the academy or “leadership
laboratory”, nobody was worried about being original or entertaining. You were told what to do
and when to do it. A lot of cadets liked that style of living.
Another common theme that can associated with West Point is Perry’s Model of
Relativism when comparing the relationship among officers and upperclassmen of equal rank.
(Evans et. al 2010 p. 86) suggest that, Relativistic thinkers acknowledge that some opinions are
of little value, yet reasonable people can disagree on some matters.
Chickering’s Theory of development can definitely be applied to the makeup of West
Point Military Academy. (Evans et. al 2010 pgs. 67-69) suggest that an individual’s
psychosocial development has seven stages or vectors. In my opinion, the military academies
need to focus largely or should be concentrating on the seven vectors to further develop those
MENTORING FOR ACCESS AND PERSISTENCE 7
Developing Competence, Managing Emotions, Moving Toward Interdependence,
Developing Interpersonal Relationships, Establishing Identity, Developing a sense of Purpose,
and Developing Integrity are all key elements for individuals navigating their way through an
institution such as West Point and life after West Point.
Reading the bestseller “Absolutely American” gave me a pretty vivid picture of life at
West Point Military Academy. For the most part, life as a cadet is dictated to you. The
institution literally strips and breaks you down as an individual to only build you up again into
what they want you to be. Perry’s model of Dualism really stands out as a common theme
throughout the story. That military mentality way of thinking is good for some, but what about
the individuals that want to pursue a career in the military, but would struggle with the rigid
lifestyle due to cultural differences etc. What do they do, or where do they go for support?
My proposed program for West Point is called MAP (Mentoring for Access and
Persistence). MAP is a unique mentoring program geared for military personnel, which matches
various military counselors and professional counselors from the civilian world to counsel
military men and women in need of assistance. The program would focus on the following
1. Awareness – Exposing young cadets to opportunities and lifelong military benefits.
2. Financial Readiness –Exposing cadets to financial opportunities in and out of the
3. Persistence – Providing personal support and coaching on life skills.
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Mentoring program would be a two year program for military personnel and the
Persistence program would be a four year program for cadets.
MAP Program Curriculum
Mandatory Orientation – Military Personnel / Counselors
Real Time Experience
Persistence – “Steps to Success”
Graduation - Portfolio
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Evans, N.J., Forney, D.S., Guido, F.M., Patton, L.D., Renn, K.A., (2010) Student Development
in College.San Francisco, CA
Lipsky, D, (2004) Absolutely American, New York, NY
MICRO-AGGRESSIONS IMPACT ON SOCIETY 4
Diversity and issues of cross-cultures are central to most important conversations and
discussions that take place on many of your colleges / university campuses in the United States
today. Several departments within Student Affairs Divisions in a lot of institutions of higher
education are faced everyday with the challenge of not only making sure are in agreement with
their college’s mission statement, but also ensuring that they maintain and abide by important
policies, procedures and practices. The makeup of our student bodies are changing continually
by becoming more racially diverse, older, more international, and more openly lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender (LGBT). Diversity within higher education has taken on a new
meaning. In the past, when referring to diversity on a college campus, one might automatically
think of race involving a student of color, but on today’s campuses, a person cannot be quick to
jump to conclusions and instantly make any assumptions until they have heard all the facts,
because the parties involved could have a totally different issue unrelated to race.
A lot of experts would probably argue that technology and computers are the wave of the
future in higher education, but in my opinion, Multicultural Competence Awareness is a vital
component necessary in creating and maintaining a safe, inclusive, fair, and healthy environment
conducive for all faculty, staff, and students to be successful.
The history of Micro-aggressions can be traced as far back as when the first slaves were
brought to this country from Africa. According to (Davis 1989, p. 3), “Americans share a
common historical and cultural heritage in which racism has played and still plays a dominate
role. Because of this shared experience, we also inevitably share many ideas, attitudes and
beliefs that attach significance to an individual’s race and induce negative feelings and opinions
MICRO-AGGRESSIONS IMPACT ON SOCIETY 5
about nonwhites. To the extent that this cultural belief system has influenced all of us, we are all
racists. At the same time, most of us are unaware of our racism”.Also, coupled with that belief,
is the need to categorize different ethnic groups. This behavior has also aided in the
development of Micro-aggressions. Cognitive psychologist have suggested that humans have a
need to categorize people in order to make sense of their external experiences. Very similar to
many identity theories, Micro-aggressions are easily formed when external situations impact a
person and they internalize that experience and for an opinion of that person and ultimately that
In my opinion, the “Cycle of Socialization, developed by Bobbie Harro” can be closely
related to Micro-aggressions and how they are formed. In this particular theory, Harro describes
in detail the evolution of a person’s life. In the beginning, a person is first born intoasituation
guilt free, with no information stored inside of them, virtually a blank slate. The first form of
socialization is your parents, teachers, relatives etc. Those individuals whether intentionally or
unintentionally start to program that person’s thought patterns with traditions, and values. Then
those values get reinforced as that person matures by other influential groups resulting in
internalization of those patterns, and then based on that information, an individual at some point
has to gain further knowledge and decide to take action against unfairness or do nothing and
promote status quo. (Wijeysinghe, Bailey 2001) Suggest that Racial Identities are results from
internal processes as an individual encounters external influences. I agree with this theory
because in many cases the first teachers of a new born baby are parents. Whatever that parent
was taught as a child from their parents is going to be passed down to the next generation.
MICRO-AGGRESSIONS IMPACT ON SOCIETY 6
I disagree with the theory of individuals behaving like their parents because they were
exposed to a family trait or habit at a young age, and by default they continue the cycle. Not
everything we inherit from our parents is positive. I believe that some of the cycles and trends
passed down from one generation to the next need to be broken. My father, who unfortunately is
an alcoholic, showed me the negative effects of alcoholism. As a result of watching him battle
with those demons over the years, and witnessing firsthand how it ruined many happy and joyous
family occasions, none of his kids including myself wanted anything to do with drinking alcohol.
My father picked up his drinking habit from my grandfather and his generations, and it was
passed down from one generation to the next, but the cycle was broken during my generation. I
believe through education and personal pain and struggle myself, my brother and my sister were
able to break that habit in our family. Similar to Harro’s cycle of Socialization, when we came
to the point in our lives where we had to make a decision on whether we would follow in the
footsteps of what we were taught as childrenand continue the trend or make a change, educate
ourselves on the negative effects of alcoholism and take a stand, we chose to make a change and
break the chain. I believe in regard to Micro-aggressions, every person at some point of their life
reaches a crossroad in terms of whether or not they are going to have the courage to speak out
against racial prejudices and discrimination or simply do nothing, and let the injustice continue.
As a practicing professional in higher education, I think the subject of Micro-aggressions
will have a major impact on me and my continued work. The reason why I feel this will be a
work in progress is because, prejudices, and race / group discriminations are here to stay. The
subject of dispelling Micro-aggressions is a tremendous under taking because you are trying to
convince another individual or individuals to give up some of their traditions and beliefs.
MICRO-AGGRESSIONS IMPACT ON SOCIETY 7
As much as we would like to think as higher education administrators, we can save the
world, the reality is, some people in this world are not willing to be saved change their
philosophies. In fact, some of the privileged people feel that society is fine just the way it is or
question why do we need change?Unfortunately, racism, is alive and well in this country.
Discrimination amongst cross-cultures has not changed much throughout the course of history. I
do believe that there has been progress in certain areas, but we still have a long way to go and
with the aid of media technology, we have constant reminders on a daily basis to let us know we
have to continue the fight for equality for all.
In terms of theoretical concepts covered throughout the course that is applicable to my
work in student affairs. I think Bailey’s racial identity development theory can be applied in
assisting me reach some conclusions. I agree with Bailey’s suggestion of in order to gain a better
understanding of individuals and as groups we must continue to examine how we interact with
one another. The subject of identity focuses on understanding self-awareness, the nature of
mankind, and inter-cultural similarities and differences. Once insight and knowledge is gained,
an individual can begin to understand the life and needs of others.
The identity I identify and associate with is the Black Identity. The development of
African Americans or Black people in this country is a unique experience. Black people were
brought to this country by force, and brutally enslaved by white people, for several hundreds of
years. Africans were stripped of their culture, traditions, and customs and forced to learn another
culture or suffer horrific consequences. The family structure was totally destroyed by separation,
and men in particular were not able to lead and guide their families as they wished, but were
forced to accept a lifestyle that was considered less than human.
MICRO-AGGRESSIONS IMPACT ON SOCIETY 8
This oppression and abuse had a devastating and crippling effect on the Black Race and culture.
The psychological and emotional toll of slavery still plagues the development of black people to
this day. In my opinion, the United States and several other social ethnic groups are still
suffering consciously from the inhuman mentality slavery has left behind. Because black people,
in my opinion have been oppressed the most, understanding their stages of development is
critical to interpreting other identity groups.
Another concept / theory I feel will be helpful in terms of student affairs work is Cass’s
Model of Homosexuality Identity. With the rising number of students regarding (LGBT) issues,
and new laws being introduced and passed within society today, I believe educating and
displaying compassion and acceptance for this culture is vital for our countries future success.
The issues surrounding Gays, Lesbians, Bi-sexual and Transgender people are unchartered
waters for the most part, and really need some professionals to further explore their world to rely
much needed information to the rest of society.
Issues regarding Micro-aggression sounds like an easy subject to discuss and
work within in terms of society and higher education, but the fact of the matter is that it is a very
difficult and complex area to work within, and one must possess a high level of skill, knowledge
and training when addressing this issue with students, faculty, staff and members of society. In
my opinion, as a professional, there is no such thing as too much training when working with a
sensitive topic as Micro-aggression. Economically, society is in a state of panic and individuals
are very desperate in their everyday situations, and as educators and administrators in the field of
education, we have to act very cautiously when interacting and working with various cultures on
issues of culture and fair play.
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I agree with Reynolds, in our required reading, that this work must continue to be
supported by different agencies and professional national / local associations. Preparation and
training programs at various undergraduate and graduate level institutions must continue to
increase awareness regarding the issues surrounding multiculturalism. Finally, as individuals, I
believe that each person owes it to themselves and their fellow man to continue to educate
themselves and others of the dangers of unfair treatment and discrimination regarding
multiculturalism. Educating, raising awareness, and changing negative views when needed is
the only way society has a chance of overcoming this disease that currently plagues our nation.
MICRO-AGGRESSIONS IMPACT ON SOCIETY 10
Davis, P. (1988). Law of Micro-aggression Citation: 98 Yale L. J. 1988-1989
(pp. 1559-1578). Retrieved from EBSCO host database.
Reynolds , A. & Pope, R. Multicultural Competence in Student Affairs
(pp. 156-157). San Francisco, CA:
Wijeyesinghe, C., Jackson, B. (2001, 2012). New perspectives on racial identity