Johns Hopkins University and the Maryland National Guard announced a new partnership to provide service members with additional financial support to reach their educational goals during a virtual signing ceremony Friday morning.
With Johns Hopkins joining the Guard's "Partners in Education" program, Maryland National Guard members will receive an automatic 50% tuition waiver for the first six credits of their undergraduate study, and up to 100% reimbursement of qualifying undergraduate and graduate tuition.
"Members of the Maryland National Guard serve the state twice: they serve as citizens of the state, and then they serve as members of the Guard," said JHU Provost Sunil Kumar. "And they have been called on to do extraordinary things during these extraordinary times, such as securing the Capitol and providing capacity as the state responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. We couldn't be more proud of the Guard and we're grateful for their service, and so it is indeed an honor to sign this partnership."
Added Maj. Gen. Timothy Gowan, the adjutant general of Maryland for the Maryland National Guard, during the webcast: "Becoming a partner with the Maryland National Guard does not involve just a quick signature on a piece of paper. It involves a moral understanding that both parties are selflessly doing this for the benefit of the soldiers and airmen—and for Maryland. And for that I'm truly grateful."
Additionally, JHU and the Maryland National Guard will collaborate on the creation of business and leadership programs, seminars and trainings, and new educational programs to accommodate the needs of service members.
"Over the last 12 months, we have relied on the members of the Maryland National Guard to keep us safe in ways that we may not have imagined," said Maryland Lieutenant Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford in recorded remarks for the webcast. "They have been instrumental in efforts to treat COVID-19 patients and provide vaccines as we work to end the pandemic. They also answered the call in January to protect the Capitol and help secure a peaceful transfer of power in Washington. It is our duty and responsibility to support these men and women who sacrifice so much for their country as they work to build better lives for themselves and their families."
During the event, guardsman Kweku Awuah, a senior molecular and cell biology major at Johns Hopkins and a senior airman with the District of Columbia Air National Guard, expressed his excitement about the partnership, calling himself a proud guardsman and a proud Blue Jay. In a message to the Hub, he explained those sentiments.
"The National Guard is a great family to be a part of, and it gives you the opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds," Awuah said. "That is, being able to live your civilian life and getting the opportunity to wear the nation's cloth on scheduled duty days. Looking back and seeing where I am now, the D.C. Air National Guard has been very beneficial, and I'm proud to be a part of it and to serve my country."
Johns Hopkins alum Alexi Franklin, a lieutenant colonel, said during the webcast that his experiences as an undergraduate student at Johns Hopkins helped enhance his years as an active duty service member deployed to Italy and Afghanistan after graduation. The education credits he received from his service, in turn, allowed him to return to Hopkins for his master's degree.
"It's really gratifying for me to be here today and to see these two institutions that have meant so much to me, both personally and professionally, working more closely together," Franklin said. "I look forward to the partnership enabling more Maryland men and women to have the same outstanding educational opportunities I experienced while I was at Johns Hopkins."