- On September 30, 2016
- By John Smith
SDI Announces Student Ambassadors
At SDI, we’re proud to have absolutely amazing students. Many are serving or have served in our military, many juggle jobs and families while they study, and all of our students have a passion for firearms. It’s our honor to be a part of their personal growth and education, and we love getting to know our students on an individual basis. Out of over a thousand students, we’ve chosen two to be our Student Ambassadors for the coming months, and it’s our pleasure to introduce you to them today.
Student Ambassadors are selected to serve as stellar representatives of our student body. They are personally nominated by SDI Instructors, are current students in the Advanced Gunsmithing Certificate program or Associate of Science in Firearms Technology degree program with at least a 3.5 gpa, and their applications and essays were reviewed by our Student Ambassador Selection Committee.
Without further ado, we are proud to announce our Student Ambassadors, Brianna Phillips and Sam Scurlock.
Brianna and Sam share some similar experiences. Both immediately enlisted in the Army upon graduating high school—in fact, Sam enlisted two days after his 18th birthday.
“I grew up in Germany, so I actually enlisted in Germany…as soon as I graduated, I pretty much packed my bags and left for Georgia,” he says.
Both students were deployed; Brianna spent a year in Iraq and Sam was sent to Afghanistan twice, plus stints in Qatar and Germany. Brianna left service in 2013, and Sam is Active Duty, currently stationed in Ft. Bragg after switching from the infantry in the 82nd Airborne Division to Psychological Operations in 2011.
Both are also married and have children, but from there, their stories diverge.
Brianna, a current Associate of Science in Firearms Technology degree student after having graduated from the Advanced Gunsmithing Certificate program, first started with SDI over a year ago. She, along with her husband, has already opened a small business called Full Spectrum Enterprises in Rock Springs, Wyoming, where they currently reside.
“In Wyoming, there are a lot of hunting and outdoor sports stores, but there’s not a lot of training with tactical gear,” she noted. “We thought that being able to get your hands on certain types of gear would be beneficial because there’s really nothing out here like that. We’ve tried to stay away from loans and borrowing money, and we’ve really tried to bring this up out of our back pockets. We take pride in being able to do everything on our own.”
Since obtaining her Advanced Gunsmithing Certificate, Brianna is excited to expand the gunsmithing side of their business. They currently specialize in training, mindful carry techniques, and tactical preparedness, but Brianna’s training will offer a broader range of services.
“I have my gunsmithing certificate and that’s kind of what I want to focus on personally,” she said. “I know we have the training options, but I feel like we’ll stick out by offering gunsmithing because a lot of places around here might offer the training or the products we do but not a lot of them offer the gunsmithing.”
Brianna’s husband is also a student at SDI, and the two of them hope to build Full Spectrum Enterprises into a successful endeavor that also gives them the opportunity to balance family and business.
Sam’s goal is to stay active duty for another 10 years or more. For him, SDI became a possibility when it re-gained its ability to accept TA, and he enrolled in the Advanced Gunsmithing Certificate in May after his most recent deployment.
“I know that just for the time being, while I’m currently still active duty, I won’t be actively working as a gunsmith,” he says, “it’ll mostly be at a hobbyist level of gunsmithing activities, primarily on my own weapons. However, I am looking at pursuing an FFL and setting up an LLC of my own so that I can at least do minor tasks.”
Sam plans to further his education while he’s serving, either by continuing in the SDI Associate degree program or by enrolling in a bachelor program elsewhere. He’d like to eventually obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Business.
After he retires, Sam is hoping to find a position on the business side of the firearms industry.
“My ideal job, especially taking into account my desire to work with firearms, would be to work in the research and development department of a major firearms manufacturer,” he says.
Both Sam and Brianna say they’re tactile learners. Sam is exited to start the AR-10 Advanced Armorer course as his Capstone Project, and Brianna says her build process was her favorite part.
“I got to do the AR-15 build and that was really fun—not only to have the equipment on hand but to have that knowledge and to be able to go step-by-step instead of just reading it in a book somewhere and trying to imagine how it’d go,” she explained. “It was really helpful to be able to actually finish the project and make the mistakes that I did so I’d know how to correct them and move on from there.”
As a student in the first half of his Advanced Gunsmithing Certificate, Sam jokes that being an SDI student is “like excitedly drinking from a water hose…it’s been a lot of fun, I’ve learned a lot, and it’s a lot of material in a short amount of time.”
The Student Ambassador term lasts for 4 months, and Sam and Brianna will each be submitting videos and insights about his or her time as an SDI student from now until their term completion date at the end of December. This weekend, they’ll be travelling to Georgia for the Iraqveteran8888 Shoot, where they’ll meet firearms media organizations, mingle with sponsoring companies…and shoot lots of guns.
We at SDI are proud to have students like Brianna and Sam, and we look forward to watching their progress over the next few months as Student Ambassadors.