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Marian University and Indiana Army National Guard partner to meet need for skilled technical officer positions

Taneah J Turner (R) working with a student.jpeg
Posted at 5:07 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 19:54:59-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Marian University is bridging an educational gap to address a critical shortage of Army National Guard Warrant Officers.

“It’s been fun," Nicole Kegebein said. “Definitely a challenge, eye opening, stressful -- but in a good way, knowing that you want to be there to further your career.”

Kegebein is just three weeks into her training to become a food service technician warrant officer. She said she first joined the military to go to college, but has lacked the skills she feels to get her there.

“But going through this program is reiterating to me getting a college degree and getting back into the study habits, what do I need to work on, what are my strengths and weaknesses,” Kegebein said.

“Whatever they want, we try to help them,” James Highbaugh, Project Build Lead Instructor at Marian University said. “And if they want to go to college, we prep them for all the different assessments they have to take to get to college.”

Highbaugh explained the Indiana National Guard heard about Marian University’s Project Build program, a community outreach program which started in 2015 and focuses on adult education. They were noticing some service men and women weren’t able to pass the standardized test without college experience.

“They were telling him what was going on and saying we want to be able to move our guardsmen up to this level, can you help us?” Highbaugh said.

After only two months of working together, 11 officers have been awarded with the educational requirements to now apply for the Warrant Officer position.

“I want them to know that they can achieve whatever it is they want to do,” Highbaugh said. “Whatever it is.”

This military partnership is unique for Marian University, but Project Build helps people in a variety of fields: construction, logistics, you name it. They’ve helped hundreds of students over the years.

“I believe some of the gap is more in certain soft skills and prepping and being able to conduct yourself in an interview, having a good resumé,” Highbaugh said.

He added many students don’t have the training or support at home to be able to further their careers.

“It needs to be filled. The gap has to be filled,” Highbaugh said. “And I’m really thankful to be a part of Marian University team and that they are willing to step beyond the higher education need to go out into the community and help people that want to further their education and further their career. It’s very important simply because it’s needed. More people are needed in the workforce, more people need to work to protect their families and I’m glad that we’re able to do that and provide it for them.”

Classes start July 6, but there is still time to sign up. Positions are available. If you’d like to learn more, visit