Learning about the Army through an innovative high school program: Military co-op education a growth experience for Ottawa students

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By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

Ottawa, Ontario — Local high school students are taking all the basic training that full-time soldiers receive and are also gaining both academic and financial rewards as part of a newly-formed co-operative education program. 

They agree that the experience is preparing them well for the world of work, whether they choose to join the military or not.

Sixteen students are enrolled in the program, which is being hosted by 33 Signal Regiment, an Army Reserve unit based in Ottawa. It began in February 2019 and concludes June 24. Participants take on the Basic Military Qualification (BMQ) and BMQ-Land (BMQ-L) courses, followed by driver training on a variety of military vehicles.

To be eligible, students must be Canadian citizens, at least 16 years of age and have parental consent. Successful completion of the program will net them four academic credits, about $100 per full day of training, and eligibility for post-secondary education reimbursement of up to $2,000 per year.

Participants describe their experiences

“I was always drawn towards the military because I’ve always wanted to push myself physically and mentally and I don’t think there’s any other place where you can really do that,” said Private William Mouser, 17, a student at Ottawa’s Glebe Collegiate Institute who also serves as a Reservist with 33 Signal Regiment.

Pte Mouser is considering a full-time military career, possibly in the Signal trade or as a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot, but said there is no doubt his co-op experience will serve him well in any career.

“In the military, they kind of drill timings into you and you have to own up to what you do and be responsible,” he said. “It’s definitely good to get that drilled into your head at a young age. Also teamwork: Everybody has to do their own thing and be responsible, but you can’t do it without your team.”

Private Reese Jardine, 17, attends West Carleton Secondary School and also serves as a Reservist with 33 Service Battalion. A former cadet, having joined 2870 the Royal Canadian Dragoons at age 13, she agreed that the lessons learned during her co-op experience will serve her well whether or not she stays on the military career path.

“Going into job interviews, I can draw from my experiences and say I faced a big challenge and got through it. I still have a year of high school left but I feel so much more mature,” she said.

Both students noted there are considerable physical challenges in the BMQ and BMQ-L portions of the training, but now say they can look back fondly on the experience.

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