By: Shannon Mann
Neuse Charter student Malcolm King knows what he wants to do when he graduates, and it’s not for the faint of heart.
King, the son of Katy Wilson of Clayton, decided that instead of going straight to college, he’d do something that tested not only his mental acumen, but his physical and character strengths as well.
The 18-year-old enlisted in the Army. While this path may seem typical for many, King is the first in the county in two years to be accepted into Army nursing.
Staff Sgt. Michael Green, King’s recruiter, said the young man is the first from the area since 2015 to be accepted into the Army’s practical nursing military occupational specialty (MOS).
“The MOS is a hard one to get,” said Green. “He scored very high.”
“I wanted more out of life,” said King. “I didn’t want to go straight to college just to get out and work a 9-5 job.”
King found that his public charter school education with an honors distinction was valuable in helping him land an Army career where few are able to qualify.
King explained that the he had to study hard to obtain a good score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), a military test that helps place the right recruits in the right jobs for overall success. Nursing fields require a much higher score than most other fields.
“My honors courses helped me, especially math,” King said. “That was heavily tested on the ASVAB.”
King will train as a nurse for nearly a year at Fort Sam Houston in Texas before being given his first duty station, but before he can attend his technical school he’ll be tested mentally and physically at Fort Sill, Oklahoma for two and half months as part of Basic Combat Training.
Jennifer Antongiovanni, an honors and AP high school teacher at Neuse Charter School, knows it isn’t just King’s high aptitude for math that will make him successful in the future.
“Malcolm is intelligent and a critical thinker,” said Antongiovanni. “He is also very calm and not impulsive. I think this combination of qualities will make him very successful in the Army.”
The career teacher has taught the young man in English II and IV and realizes that a strong academic career can prepare students for more than just college.
“He is the first from Neuse Charter to pursue this,” said the teacher. “I’m so very proud of him.”
King volunteered to serve a six-year enlistment, but the time commitment doesn’t faze the teenager.
“Most of my family was in the Army,” said King. “That tradition goes back to WWI.”
As a practical nursing specialist, King will supervise and perform preventive, therapeutic and emergency nursing care procedures under the supervision of a physician, nurse or non-commissioned officer.
The soon-to-be high school graduate will not only be learning a valuable career that translates immediately to the civilian world once he leaves the Army, but he’ll also be earning money for college during his active duty tour.
Green explained that King will earn up to $4,500 a year to attend undergraduate classes while in military status and afterwards he’ll have 100% tuition reimbursement through the Post 9-11 G.I. Bill. The G.I. Bill not only provides for tuition, but helps with room/board, books and stipends.
“It’s really a great deal,” Green said. “He can use it to finish his undergrad, or put it toward a master’s degree.”
Before he turns 24, King could be one of the lucky ones to have a sought-after career with zero college debt, but he knows it isn’t luck that got him here. Hard-work, dedication, commitment and a willingness to serve his nation give him an edge in life that few others will have at his age. And the worries of potential combat don’t seem to bother the youth.
“I don’t worry about being deployed to a war zone,” King said. “We have highly trained Marines, Soldiers and Airmen to protect us from anything.”