Published: May 9, 2018 By

This October, a few months after his commissioning as an active duty field artillery officer on May 10, Eric Brown-Malone will report to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to continue his training at the U.S. Army Field Artillery School.

Brown-Malone, who grew up in Colorado Springs and graduated from Vista Ridge High School, enlisted in the U.S. Army right out of high school, against the friendly advice of his grandfather, who also served. 

“You know how teenagers are ... rebellious ... I was going to do the exact same thing my grandfather did, even though he told me not to,” said Brown-Malone, who will be the first in his family to earn a college degree when he graduates May 10 with a bachelor's in landscape architecture.

“Now, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I wasn't sure how much I would like the army or ROTC, but once I got here and met the people and went through this experience, I feel like now I'm prepared to be a leader and face the many challenges in life.”

Brown-Malone, 23, who served two years in the Army Reserve before coming to CU Boulder, is most proud and excited about his leadership development as a student and soon-to-be commissioned officer.

“I think everybody deep down wants to be a leader, and the good thing about leadership is that you're not born with leadership abilities, those are things you can learn,” he said. “In learning how to be an effective leader you discover more about yourself, and when you come to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses, you can work on your weaknesses and identify other people who might be struggling in the same way. And that's what drew me to leadership, being able to help people and guide them to their goals.”

Before he reports to Fort Sill in October, Brown-Malone will put his degree to work at an architecture firm in Denver.

Short-term goals

“My next goal is to earn a slot in U.S. Army Ranger School, because it is one of the premier leadership schools in the army. If I get into that, I get to go to Fort Benning. That said, I feel like wherever I go I will be prepared to lead soldiers, which is what I want to do.”

Long-term goals

“I want to continue my career in the army, but also I would like to earn a master's degree in physical therapy or nutrition, which would be a new direction for me, but it is something I am passionate about.”

Why CU Boulder?

“I chose CU Boulder because I wanted to go to the biggest and most beautiful university in the state. When I got here, I found a university that holds its students to extremely high standards; it's not easy. And that makes it much more satisfying now that I'm about to graduate. This university gives students all the tools they need to succeed.”

Biggest success

“I'm most proud that I can leave an impact on other people as a leader. I'm a person of color, a first-generation student; I'm going to be commissioned as an officer, so I pride myself in being able help others reach their goals and succeed. That's my goal as a leader.”

Biggest challenges

“The toughest part of being a full-time student and an ROTC student was juggling the two lives. I became really good at time management. Getting up at 4:30 in the morning to start some days wasn't easy, either.”

Other passions

“Weightlifting and basketball. I'm a big weightlifter. Physical fitness is a big part of my job; you can't be an army officer if you're not physically fit. So I've learned to have an appreciation of working out and running. It also helps me de-stress from my academics.”

Final word

“The ROTC program here at CU was probably the greatest thing that's happened to me in my life. It gave me more opportunities than I expected, and helped me overcome obstacles, not just in school or my military career, but also in my life. It gave me the keys to my own personal vehicle.”