Medicine and military combine for two new officers, Francis Marion University graduates

Two members of Francis Marion University Reserve Officer Training Corps program were commissioned as officers in the U.S. military Friday ahead of fall commencement exercises.

Both new officers will enter military medical fields and plan to advance their training while serving.

Second Lieutenant Nicholas Smith is entering active duty with the U.S. Army Nursing Corps. Second Lieutenant William Dunson Jr. was commissioned to the South Carolina National Guard’s Medical Service Corps.

Second Lieutenant Smith traveled the world while growing up with his mother, Kathleen Smith, a former petty officer in the U.S. Navy. Kathleen Smith is an FMU alumnus.

During travels that took him from Japan to Germany and a few places in between, Nicholas Smith participated in Junior ROTC in both the Army and the Air Force as they traveled to the various schools where is mother was teaching as part of the Department of Defense Education Activities (DODEA). DODEA operates school around the world for military-connected students.

“My mom’s my inspiration, and the ideal of a hard-working and motivated individual,” Smith said. “She’s supported me from day one and never faltered in her belief that I will succeed.”

Smith has served in the National Guard as a combat medic. He is the first ROTC student at FMU to graduate with a nursing degree.

Smith will be stationed in San Antonio, Texas, for training and while he studies in preparation for nursing licensure exam. He plans to pursue a career in critical care and eventually wants to become a certified nurse anesthetist.

“I’m a pretty fun guy, so people are surprised to see my passion for critical care,” Smith said, “but being able to take people from seriously injured through the step down and healing process is all I have ever wanted to do.”

Second Lieutenant Dunson, a native of Dillon, credits his mentor, Sgt. First Class Randy Gray, for encouraging him on his life path. Dunson joined Junior ROTC under Gray in his freshman year of high school.

“He (Gray) has supported me every step of the way,” Dunson said. Gray gave Dunson his first officer’s salute as part of Friday’s commissioning ceremony.

Always interested in medicine, Dunson will graduate with a degree in biology. But until a hip injury last year he wasn’t sure what type of medicine he wanted to pursue.

“That injury really showed me that chiropractic care was where I wanted to be, I love to see patients through the process from injury through healing,” said Dunson.

He will begin his chiropractic education in July at Sherman College of Chiropractic in Spartanburg while serving with the South Carolina National Guard.

Author: Rachel Howell

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