Award for UCI Student
In October, seven senior non-commissioned officers interviewed five enlisted soldiers in Sacramento, California. They awarded only one with the coveted title of California State Military Reserve, Soldier of the Year. That soldier was UC Irvine’s very own Specialist Alexander Louie.
There are approximately 850 soldiers assigned to five major command units that constitute the California State Military Reserve (CSMR). Each unit has a command board that utilizes a rigorous selection process to choose which soldier represents their unit in Sacramento for the state board. They take into account various skills, including the soldier’s knowledge of military history, warrior tasks, Army programs, drills and ceremonies, military law, first aid and leadership abilities. After about six months, the unit board chooses one soldier to represent them in California’s capital for a chance to compete for the state’s annual award.
Louie is a member of the Insulation Support Command, which reports to California’s Governor through the Adjutant General and has been a reservist for the past two and a half years. He enlisted in the CSMR while in college — an extremely rare situation. At the time, he was inspired by the numerous California wildfires that continued to pop up along the coast, which consequently displaced countless citizens and engulfed hundreds of homes and structures. Interested in the state mission of the military, he found the State Military Reserve.
“I remember people were so self-absorbed with celebrities,” Louie said. “I was completely disgusted because there are so many more important things. We’re in two wars here and many don’t even know the details of that.”
Currently, he holds a State Active Duty assignment and serves as Anti-Terrorism Force Protection, supporting National Guardsmen with installation security, protecting and serving military infrastructure and personnel. He reports to the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, Calif. for his stateside mission.
Last month, Louie demonstrated all that he has learned while serving his community as a reserve soldier. The seven senior non-commissioned officers tested the qualified soldiers on both open-ended and close-ended questions about numerous military subjects. In addition to looking at how they presented themselves, they deliberated on every single detail. They checked if the measurements were correct on their uniforms and how the enlisted soldiers talked and conducted themselves during their interviews.
In the end, Louie bested his fellow reserves, earned the title of State Military Reserve, Soldier of the Year and proudly walked away with the California Commendation Medal.
After his honor in Sacramento, Louie learned he was appointed a brand new position within UCI’s student government. He now acts as the veterans’ liaison to the ASUCI president, representing veteran students and facilitating solutions to their needs.
“I am still actively serving,” Louie said. “I’m not a veteran, but I definitely support veterans, who I feel are underrepresented at this university. I am honored to be the bridge between UCI’s student government, student services, academics, veterans and reservists.”
As if Louie doesn’t have enough on his plate, he is a full-time student of the prestigious nursing program. He applied for the program on a whim, but his experience as a Reserve, coupled with his raw desire to help people, acted as a natural course for him to become a nurse.
“I used to be an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT),” Louie said. “Riding around in ambulances, it was really exciting for me joining this nursing program at UCI as a natural progression and has been a fantastic opportunity. ”
At only 22 years of age, Louie has already been recognized within the State Military Department, become a voice for veterans within UCI and is on track to receive his bachelor’s degree in nursing science.
“I feel lucky to be able to do so many things at such a young age because I probably wouldn’t have the energy to do it all later,” Louie said. “I go to a fantastic school, I am highly involved in the student government and I am able to serve my country in uniform, all without sacrificing performance, which is pretty special.”