Captain (Ret.) Gabe Higerd ’06, a former member of the Cougar football team and top officer in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadet program, returns to his alma mater as APU’s ROTC instructor after serving in the United States Army for five years.
APU LIFE: What inspired you to join the military?
Higerd: I remember being on the field at football practice when the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center took place and discussing the implications of that day with my teammates and coaches. Something sparked inside me, and I knew I needed to change the direction of my life. I have always been in awe of the great people in history who put their lives on the line for others in the name of freedom. On that day, I truly understood what that meant, and it became clear to me that our country was in desperate need of people to step up in defense of others. If hard things were going to be asked of my generation, I wanted to be the one who answered, “If not me, then who?”
APU LIFE: What did you hope to accomplish during your service?
Higerd: My service enabled me to uphold the military’s more than 200-year history of honor and selflessness. I wanted to leave an imprint of conviction and character on the people I served and the lives I influenced. Ultimately, I hope to hear the same sentiment from others that I hope to hear from my Lord and Savior: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
APU LIFE: What brought you back to APU?
Higerd: Throughout my service and deployment, I stayed in contact with Coach Santa Cruz, Coach Wilmer, and others on APU’s football staff. Coach Cruz always assured me that I had a place here if I ever considered coaching. While on the field as an assistant football coach last year, Major Mark Goeller, founder and bedrock of APU’s ROTC program, approached me about replacing him when the Army reassigned him. From there, my life changed overnight, and God has truly blessed me with a dream job.
APU LIFE: How has your faith affected your career decisions?
Higerd: My faith shapes my life everywhere I go and in everything I do. I know that life is short and you only get one chance at it. My goal is to use my God-given passions and talents to further His cause. C.T. Studd’s poem Only One Life sums it up best: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
APU LIFE: What are you learning in your new role as ROTC instructor?
Higerd: Daily, I discover how to better serve and build up others. I’ve grown as a leader, seeing my own faults and failures and evolving through them. The amazing young Americans at APU who want to serve as officers in the Army continually blow me away. I’m honored to help guide these young men and women toward their careers in service and leaning into God’s call upon their lives.