While hundreds of University of Arkansas – Fort Smith graduates were recognized at commencement May 12, one UAFS graduate was also honored May 11 for his commissioning as a second lieutenant into the Arkansas Army National Guard.
UAFS graduate Albert Spanel of Alma was commissioned Friday afternoon in the Business and Industrial Institute on campus, a culmination of his time spent in the Reserve Officers’ Training Program (ROTC) at UAFS. The Charleston High School graduate, who graduated with a degree in business administration, will serve as a Quartermaster Officer in the National Guard.
Lieutenant Colonel David Gibbons, who currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Arkansas Army National Guard, served as the guest speaker during the ceremony. He stressed the importance of four often-overlooked qualities in effective leaders – selfless service, passion, vision and resiliency.
“I picked those because they’re traits I don’t feel like we spend enough time discussing. But more importantly, on this incredible day, I’ve picked those traits because they’re traits I’ve seen in Albert,” he said. “I look forward to seeing [Spanel] develop those in the future, because I believe [he’s] going to have a great impact on this organization.”
Spanel also spoke at the ceremony, where he emotionally thanked his wife for her support.
“I’d like to thank my wife because it took everything for both of us,” he said. “A lot of times, I answered to school, answered to ROTC, answered to the guard, answered to ArcBest, and several other organizations I belonged to. And Courtney was always there patiently waiting and supporting me through it all.”
He also thanked his family for instilling work ethic, respect and humbleness in him, and thanked the university and its faculty for providing him the opportunity to participate in ROTC.
Spanel took his state oath of office during the ceremony and recited the federal oath of office during the university’s commencement ceremony May 12.
Following his recital of the oath of office at the commissioning ceremony, Spanel’s bars were pinned on by his wife, Courtney, and his mother and father, Fay and Frank Spanel. Master Sgt. Clint Flood rendered the first salute.
ROTC is a program through the U.S. Army that allows university students to take elective leadership classes in the hopes of transitioning to officer positions with the armed forces following graduation. The commissioning ceremony signifies such a transition. The ROTC program began at UAFS in 2008.