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Black Hawk ride, educational visits help UT team members understand military students

Two University of Toledo team members who work with students in the military had a once-in-a-lifetime experience this past summer that helped them better understand the students they serve — a ride in a Black Hawk helicopter.

“After I got over the fact that I wasn’t going to get sick, I was able to enjoy it,” said Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller, dean of University College.

Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller smiled for the camera in the Black Hawk helicopter.

Julie Rippke, a program accountant in UT’s Financial Aid Office who awards National Guard scholarships, also enjoyed the five-minute ride.

“I didn’t know it was on my bucket list,” she said. “It was a lot of fun.”

The Black Hawk flight was just one piece of an educational visit planned by the Ohio National Guard. University personnel who serve students in the military were invited to Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base near Columbus to learn more about the National Guard and how to better support students who enlist.

The University of Toledo has more than 120 students who are members of the National Guard, Rippke said. They are active military who train and must be ready to deploy to national disasters or wherever the military needs them.

Kopp Miller, who works with ROTC students in University College, also visited Fort Knox, Ky., last summer to learn more about how ROTC trains future officers. Five people from each of the eight ROTC brigades around the country were chosen to attend the two-day event.

Julie Rippke posed for a photo with the Black Hawk helicopter, which she rode in last summer.

Kopp Miller lunched with cadets and participated in some physical training exercises, including an obstacle course. She and other attendees also learned about emotional intelligence and how soldiers are prepared to handle harrowing situations.

Conversations with colleagues and ROTC leaders confirmed for Kopp Miller that UT has “a well-run, efficient, high-quality ROTC program,” she said. The University’s dedicated classrooms, offices, gym and scholarships set it apart.

Both visits helped Kopp Miller better comprehend what UT students in the military go through.

“It gave me a better understanding of how they’re trained, and the level of commitment from the cadets and the National Guard students as well as the people who train them,” she said.