Sergeant Major Benjamin Buzek MBA ‘22, a dedicated special operations non-commissioned officer, has been honored with the prestigious 2023 Sergeant Major Larry L. Strickland Educational Leadership Award for his remarkable contributions in creating educational avenues for non-commissioned officers (NCOs) within the U.S. Army. Sergeant Major of the Army Michael R. Weimer presented this distinguished award to Buzek during the award ceremony held at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C. on October 9.
When SGM Buzek earned his bachelor's degree, he did so while balancing the demands of active service and parenthood. As he explored options to further his education and pursue an MBA, he wanted to do so without compromising his role as an active-duty soldier. Recognizing the need to expand educational horizons for enlisted personnel, he took it upon himself to pave a groundbreaking path in collaboration with William & Mary's Raymond A. Mason School of Business.
For years, the Major General James Wright MBA cohort at the Mason School of Business had been offered to active-duty officers through a partnership with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). However, a similar educational opportunity for active-duty NCOs was notably absent. Buzek worked through his chain of command to secure the necessary permissions, allowing him to enroll in the MBA program at the Mason School of Business, thereby setting a precedent for future NCOs.
SGM Buzek firmly believes that the ever-evolving nature of warfare demands a higher level of education for service members of all ranks, enabling them to make informed and strategic decisions in the heat of combat. He underscores the importance of having educated NCOs working alongside officers, as the modern battlefield operates at a rapid pace. "In today's battlefield, the command team of officers and NCOs have to move at the speed of light because the enemy is moving that quickly," emphasized Buzek. "So, I think it's incredibly important that our force is educated, and our NCOs get the time to go to school."
Since his graduation from William & Mary in August 2022, two other NCOs have successfully earned their MBA through Buzek's innovative initiative. While the program presently has limited eligibility, SGM Buzek remains unwavering in his commitment to expand it further, ensuring this invaluable educational opportunity becomes accessible to more soldiers.