Soldier cites bad example
Camp Zama – “I can be your bad example on how not to do it,” Command Sgt. Maj. Scarlett Stabel recently told students at the Zama American High School College and Career Fair.
Stabel told attendees at the fair that in the eighth grade, “I was not a school dropout but a school kick-out,” and an unwed teen mother who later married and then divorced. She was left to raise three daughters.
Despite that inauspicious beginning, there was something inside Stabel which would not let her quit.
“I had no trade, no profession. I didn’t want to be a role model for my children, living on welfare,” she told Stars and Stripes.
Stabel obtained a GED (Graduate Equivalency Degree) in Germany, where she was born and raised, as well as in the U.S. She then joined the Army, later earning an associate’s and then a bachelor’s degree.
It took her seven and eight years, respectively, to earn those degrees, taking classes on her “short days,” while being a full-time soldier and mother.
Stabel told the students that school dropouts earn 41 percent less than high school graduates and 67 percent less than college grads. Why such a disparity between dropouts and high school and college graduates?
“The stuff you learn in school shows employers you have the capacity to learn, to take information and apply it,” she said. “It shows you have critical thinking skills and that you can learn what you need to know the job. You’re not just waiting for someone to tell you what to do.”
Stabel said she is willing to talk about her experience because, “People have to know the consequences, the ‘here’s what happens potentially if you do this and don’t do that.’ It has helped me over the years to listen to other people’s experiences.”
Despite her obvious success in the Army, she concluded by telling students, “Stay in school, because the alternative ain’t that bright.” It was a perfect start to the fair.