Getting to know...Simon Stricklen
It’s not easy being an Appalachian State graduate working at Wofford.
“I know it’s not a very popular thing around here,” laughs Capt. Simon Stricklen, Wofford’s ROTC enrollment and scholarship officer. “It was a tough week for me two years ago when the Terriers took it to us at Gibbs Stadium. I never heard the end of it.”
Truth be told, he hopes he never does, because he really loves it at Wofford.
“I have no idea why they pay me to do this, but I’m very thankful they do,” he says. “It keeps the lights on and the truck running. But seriously, I absolutely love what I do. Leading soldiers and helping young people achieve their goals is an honor. Being a part of the Wofford ROTC team is just an amazing feeling, as is being a part of the Wofford academic community. I am VERY passionate about my job.”
What is his job, specifically?
“As the enrollment scholarship officer, I help young people achieve their goals,” says Stricklen. “Cadets [ROTC students that have signed an agreement to join the Army as an officer] generally have a goal of leaving college 100 percent debt free. So we try to help them out. Almost all of our cadets here at Wofford are on full four-year scholarship, which means the Army pays for 100 percent tuition and fees and the Wofford College Financial Aid office pays for room-and-board. They also get a monthly stipend and $600 for books every semester.
“In exchange for that, they serve their country after graduating as officers. We have a very distinguished lineage of 23 general officers that have graduated from our program. I look at it not only as a debt-free education, but also as a guaranteed career…not a job, but a career waiting for you after college.”
Stricklen knows of what he speaks. An ROTC cadet at Appalachian State, he went on to serve two stints in Iraq, in 2003 and 2005. The second time, he got back eight days before his daughter was born.
“Away from my job, my favorite thing to do in the whole world is play with my little girl,” he says. “She is 3 years old going on crazy. We play fetch with the dog. Sometimes the dog plays fetch with her. I love time with the family.”
One of the things Stricklen and his wife, MaryEdith, love to do together most is travel. A native of Banner Elk, N.C., trips to the Biltmore House in Asheville are never far off in the future. And there is a festival back home every year that brings out the social butterfly in him.
“Every year that I haven’t been in Iraq, I’ve been to the Woolly Worm Festival (in Banner Elk),” he says. “People race caterpillars up strings for money. You pay five bucks to enter. You bring your own caterpillar or you can buy one there, and the winner gets $1,000. It’s a pretty unique event. They have crafts and festival foods and all kinds of goodies for the kids. Everyone should go at least once.”
It’s not the only racing that gets Stricklen going. He’s a devout NASCAR follower, especially one driver in particular…Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“There are only two sports as far as I’m concerned, NASCAR and football,” he says. “In football I love my Mountaineers and the Alabama Crimson Tide, my alma mater and my parents’. But I must admit that I have found a new pleasure in life; watching the Terriers pound Furman into the ground. As far as pro teams go, I love the Panthers. They let me down every now and then, but I still follow them.”
There are many loves in Stricklen’s life, and his job is definitely one of them.
“Since I’ve been here, it’s been amazing,” he says. “I was told by Jenni Mauran (Wofford director of admission) when I got here that this is a family. It is exactly that. A big, Wofford Terrier family.”
With one adopted Mountaineer, one very happy adopted Mountaineer, sharing the home.