Toward the end of college at the University of Florida, Luis Gonzalez realized it was time to make a decision about his future. He began to consider joining the Military as an officer. His father was a finance officer in the Army, and Luis thought being an Army officer would be the best career path for him.
“I really started to try and put things together, to figure out what I wanted to do. I ended up looking into the Army. I enjoyed my major, but I didn’t want to take that any further. It didn’t seem like something I wanted to get a master’s degree in.”
Once he knew that he wanted to join the Army, Luis began to research Officer Candidate School (OCS), which trains individuals with college degrees to become officers. Next, Luis talked to a recruiter and went before a board to be approved for OCS. After that, he shipped to Basic Training, where he soon found himself in a position of leadership.
“They see you as a leader, as a role model. You get put in that position really quickly. Eyes were on me, and I had to continually do the right thing and try to find out what ‘right’ looked like.”
Immediately after Basic Training, Luis reported to OCS in Fort Benning, Ga. While at OCS, he decided to apply for a job as an OCS trainer, where he could guide those who were going through what he had just experienced.
Luis interviewed successfully to be a trainer at OCS, and now he works with officer candidates who will become second lieutenants in the Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard. As an executive officer for Echo Company, Luis helps make sure that platoon trainers have what they need, and he mentors new officer candidates.
“Officer Candidate School is here to mentor and develop leaders for the future Army in all 16 basic branches. There are roughly about 160 candidates per class. With a limited number of instructors, we really have to do what we can to get that one-on-one time with the candidates because they’re all looking for it.”
Next, Luis will become a platoon trainer, where he’ll be working with officer candidates even more closely. Not only will he teach the candidates military customs and courtesies, but he’ll also be teaching them the leadership skills they’ll need to manage other Soldiers, such as patience and advance planning.
One of Luis’ proudest moments happened when he was commissioned at his OCS graduation. His father, who retired shortly before Luis went to Basic Training, swore Luis in.
“To be able to stand on stage wearing our Army service uniforms and with him giving me the oath of commissioning, that was a proud moment… I’m glad to say I’m following in his footsteps.”