Charles, Mr. Chuck, Sykes standing in front of a Georgia Southern University flag

Charles “Mr. Chuck” Sykes

Mr. Chuck hails from Macon Georgia. In 1969 he graduated from Warner Robins High and worked as a furniture mover till at 19, Chuck was drafted to go to Vietnam as a helicopter fueler. After finishing AIT in Fort Lee Virginia, he would be deployed until near the end of the war. After leaving Vietnam, he would spend time in Hawaii before returning to Macon to become a father.

He began his higher education at Macon Junior College, taking classes one by one while working full time to support his family. By 1989, Charles had completed his Associates in Sociology at the renamed Macon College and been accepted to Georgia Southern, though he wouldn’t attend until 2015.

In his time as an Eagle, Mr. Chuck has played intramural football, softball, and even dodgeball, all while remaining an avid fan of his Georgia Southern Eagles. He has also been an active member of the Student Veterans Association, and the local Humane Society. In May of 2017 Mr. Chuck will graduate with his Bachelor’s of Science in Sociology. Not taking a moment of rest, Chuck wants to continue furthering his education, and continue doing work with the Humane Society.

His words of advice to up and coming military students were, “No matter how hard it seems, don’t be a quitter and don’t give up.”

Alex Schenk standing in front of a Georgia Southern flag

Alex Schenk

Alex Schenk was born in Texas, but soon after moved to Georgia, and spent his childhood in the Stone Mountain and then Savannah. After high school, Alex chose to join the Army, saying he needed purpose and direction in his life. Alex enlisted in the Army as an Aircraft Powerplant Repairer. He would go on to serve in the Army for 10 years, including a 15 month tour in Iraq.

When Alex left the Army, he found himself struggling with the culture of civilian life. Again needing purpose, he chose to pursue higher education, in an effort to continue to serve. He was drawn to Georgia Southern due to the location and proximity to family. Coming to Georgia Southern, Alex continued to pursue a degree in Psychology, adding a minor in Sociology, and is set to graduate in May of 2017 with honors.

During his time as an Eagle, Alex was very involved in multiple organizations around campus. Alex served as the Vice President, and President, for Psi Chi, the International Honor Society for Psychology, is a member of the University Honors Program, the Psyc Coalition, the Sociology Club, Omicron Delta Kappa, all while also being an active member and Sergeant-at-Arms of the American Legion, member of Vet 2 Vet and the Connected Warriors, the Student Veterans Association and serving as a Lead in the Patriot Eagle Program. In addition to his community and academic activities, Alex is a member of the Shooting Sports Club at Georgia Southern as well as helped with the Southern Eagles Archery Team. When asked how he managed so many extracurricular activities, Alex said that, “As much as I wanna hide away, I know it’s not good for me, and I can’t advise others to do the same if I’m unwilling lead from the front.” He adds, “If you’re gonna go out, you might as well be productive.”

Alex has recently been granted admission into the Master of Science for Experimental Psychology program here at Georgia Southern, and has been offered a Graduate Assistantship with CRI, working at the Shooting Sports Education Center.

Alex’s advice to future military and veteran students was, “Take deep breaths. This is not the world that we are used to. Adapt and overcome as you have before and you will find success.”


2nd Lieutenant Derek Smith standing in front of a United States of America flag2nd Lieutenant Derek Smith

Born in Connecticut, Derek would move to Saint Mary’s Georgia at 7 years old. He graduated from Camden County High in 2003. After graduating he became a full-time Martial Arts instructor. He enlisted in the Coast Guard in 2010, as a Maritime Enforcement Specialist. In 2013, he transferred his contract to the US Army and became an Artillery Cannon Crewmember. Derek enrolled at Georgia Southern University in the fall of that same year, seeking a degree in Political Science.

As a member of the Eagle Battalion, Derek served as the President of the Cadet Association, a member of the Student Veterans Association, and a Military Student Advocate in the Military and Veteran Student Center. He graduated with his Political Science degree, minoring in both Recreation and Military Science. Derek commissioned on the 8th of December as a Quartermaster 2nd Lieutenant.

When discussing with Derek his secrets to success, he said, “There are no secrets to success. It is a result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

Jordan Huerta standing in front of the Georgia Southern University flag Jordan Huerta

A native of Collins, Georgia, Jordan graduated from Tattnall County High School in 2009. He joined the United States Marine Corps after high school, and he served over four years as an Aviation Communication Systems Technician. While stationed at Marine Air Control Squadron 23 on Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado, his job duties included rendering military funeral honors, assisting with the Toys for Tots program in Denver, Colorado, and training the local Marine Corps reservists. Furthermore, Jordan was a Combat Marksmanship Trainer and supported the increase of pistol qualifications throughout the squadron. During his free time, Jordan volunteered at the Denver Broncos Boys and Girls Club. He was awarded Marine of the Year in 2011 by the Aurora Chamber of Commerce and was recognized for his hard work by United States Senator Mark E. Udall. Jordan received orders to Marine Air Control Squadron 2 in Cherry Point, North Carolina, for the final year of his enlistment.

Jordan enrolled at Georgia Southern University in spring 2014. During his tenure, he co-founded the History Club at Georgia Southern University and served as its Vice-President, he served as Secretary of the Student Veterans Association, and he served as a First Year Experience Peer Leader, a role in which he was nominated for the Peer Leader of the Year Award. Jordan was also a member of the Student Code of Conduct board for the university. Additionally, Jordan studied abroad in Cuernavaca, Mexico, during summer 2015 and represented Georgia Southern University in Washington, D.C. as a legislative intern for United States Senator Johnny Isakson. Jordan was the recipient for the 2016 Jack and Addie Averitt Foundation History Scholarship.

When asked what advice he would give to our future leaders, Jordan said, “humility is the fundamental principle to leadership, for once a leader understands he is nothing, he becomes something.” Jordan graduated Cum Laude in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in History. His future plans include higher education and involvement with politics.

Lonnie Pope standing next to a large eagle statue with it's wings outreached

Lonnie Pope

Lonnie was born in Augusta, Georgia. He would go on to join the US Navy after graduating High School where he specialized as an Aviation Electrician. He would serve for five years, conducting 3 deployments (2 sea and 1 land). Upon returning to GA he would attend Augusta State University. He would transfer to GA Southern in 2014, and begin searching for internships. After meeting Bridges Adams of Career Services, he realized that not only were there resources on campus for helping students succeed after college, but that there were those who would specifically help Vets.

With help from Career Services he was able to not only fine tune his resume, but also receive offers from both Gulfstream and Norfolk Southern.  Lonnie accepted an internship with Gulfstream for the summer of 2016. Lonnie will be graduating with his degree in Electrical Engineering in the spring of 2017.

“There is no substitute for hard work, whether in the military, civilian employment or school. The world doesn’t owe you anything, so you get what you earn.” – Lonnie


2nd Lieutenant John Dudley standing in front of a white Georgia Southern flag

2nd Lieutenant John Dudley

John was born and raised in Villa Rica, Georgia. He graduated from Villa Rica High School in 2011, where he participated in 4 years of Football and 1 year of Soccer. John was accepted into Georgia Southern University in the summer of 2011, where he attended until fall of 2012.  On February 14, 2013 he joined the U.S. military as a Georgia Army National Guardsman. “I joined the military to find a purpose and to gain discipline.” John has been serving with the HHC 121st IN 221 MI Battalion at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia. John currently serves as a 25C (Radio Operator). He now also serves as the Secretary of the Student Veterans Association.

After graduating from Advanced Individual Training, he returned to Georgia Southern in the spring of 2014, to receive a Bachelor’s of Science of Kinesiology. Upon returning, he joined the Georgia Southern University ROTC program. John will graduate May, 2017 and commission August, 2017.  Of his continuing career John says, “I plan to serve as many years as the Army will keep me.” John also plans to pursue a Master’s in Physical Education and Coaching, and certifications as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, Tactical Strength and Conditioning Coach, and Personal Trainer.

“It’s only impossible because the people before you couldn’t do it. Don’t let people’s lack of understanding stop you” – John Dudley

Last updated: 3/27/2018

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