CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kodie Halstead is seemingly your average 21 year old, but he's juggling a lot of responsibilities.
By day, he's a criminal justice major at West Virginia University Institute of Technology. By night, he's a volunteer firefighter at the Danville and Montgomery fire departments -- depending on whether he's back home in Boone County or on campus.
In his "spare" time, he's a cadet in the U.S. Army, serving in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps.
Halstead says he's known what he's wanted to do with his life from a young age, in part due to a family full of mentors. His grandfather, a retired lieutenant colonel, is one role model and his mother, a teacher who was "always on his back" to pursue an education, is another.
"I knew what I wanted, so I set goals, and I went for it," Halstead said. "It's just something I've always wanted."
That ambition led him to become involved in the U.S. Army's Leader Development and Assessment Course, recently held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
The 29-day course, also known as Operation Warrior Forge, is the Army's largest training exercise and aims to train ROTC cadets to Army standards by developing leadership skills through obstacles like land navigation, reaction courses, cultural awareness classes and weapons familiarization.
The course requires cadets to take on everything from a 10K foot march to rappelling through the air from great heights; from building their own shelters while sleeping in the woods to learning how to react properly to battlefield wounds.
Halstead said though his time spent studying criminal justice and fighting fires and training for the Army are very different, they're one in the same in that they all teach responsibility and community outreach.
"Being in uniform means something to me -- to be out there interacting with the public and doing what I can to better the individuals I'm working with," he said. "Overall what I've learned is just whatever you're doing you have to have fun with it.
"Life has a lot of lessons for everyone, no matter how they spend it."
While Halstead knows many of his peers have chosen different routes, and many have opted out of pursuing a secondary education, he shares his ambition and optimism with others and hopes it will help them achieve their own goals.
"Every person is different, and each individual has their limits. You have to find that goal and continue to set goals. The more goals you set, the more you achieve," he said. "If you don't like it, try something else. You'll always miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take."Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.