MARIETTA, OH — Washington State Community College (WSCC) Student of the Month US Army Sergeant Swen Scheidemantel is on the other side of the globe working to earn his Chemical Operator certificate while serving his country in South Korea.
Stationed nearly 7,000 miles away from home and separated from his family, Scheidemantel wanted to make the most of his remaining time as a soldier. As a Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic, balancing military expectations with his academic pursuits has proven to be challenging. “It’s tough,” the Tyler County, West Virginia native admitted. “The Army requires a lot from each soldier, whether it be going to the field for weeks at a time, working long hours to finish jobs, and deployments. Fortunately, I’ve always had good leadership who understand, and the instructors I’ve had at WSCC so far, they’ve been pretty good at understanding that I’m active duty.”
For Scheidemantel, the motivation to keep going, even when demands seem to come from every direction, is found first in his wife and kids and then from a quote shared by one of his leaders. While deployed in the Middle East, First Sergeant Sylvester Jenkins III, who was known for sharing analogies and metaphors to motivate his team, told Scheidemantel that, “Everyone wants to be a hero until it’s time to do hero stuff.” Those words inspired Scheidemantel to shift his perspective and are ultimately the reason he has risen in the ranks to Sergeant and enrolled in college. “It’s easy to say I want to do something, but to actually do it is another thing.”
While First Sergeant Jenkins has since retired, Scheidemantel is passing the motivation on to his team. When he first started taking college courses, two Privates asked him how he’s able to manage the demands of the Army, keep up with family, take classes, and still have a life. It gave Scheidemantel great pleasure to share the quote that made such a difference in his life. He added that “I realize that as soon as I knock college out and I get home, there are bigger things on the horizon than just me wearing this camouflage uniform. I wear the uniform with pride, but it’s not what I want to do to support me and my family for the next 14 years.”
In the classroom, Scheidemantel’s drive to better himself is apparent said WSCC faculty member Chris Carpenter. As a Veteran himself, he said Scheidemantel displays his military training in every class. “Being in the Army and the leader of his team in the motor pool, teamwork is nothing new to Swen. Working together in my class is difficult for our students who live in the area, Swen lives 13 hours ahead of most of us and is keeping up and fully participating in the team.”
When Scheidemantel graduates in the spring, he will be only months away from being discharged. Pursing an education while still serving active duty, means that when he returns to West Virginia, he will have a credential that will increase the likelihood that one of the region’s chemical plants will hire him.