Provided photoJohn Rickert of New Carlisle is presented with an enhanced Personal Identity Shield by his Communications Instructor April Schmidlapp.

PIQUA — With the Fourth of July approaching, it’s an especially important time to recognize the sacrifices made by the men and women who’ve helped to preserve freedoms enjoyed today.

One Edison State Community College class did just that. Students in April Schmidlapp’s Fundamentals of Communications class, consisting of a diverse student population that includes four veterans, came together to turn one classmate’s disappointment into a positive experience.

“Interpersonal communication is a skill set taught in the course, and my students have been very engaged demonstrating significant bonding and self-disclosure,” said Edison State Instructor April Schmidlapp.

“One student, who has demonstrated significant life experience, particularly in the military, disclosed that not only had he been in Iraq and Afghanistan on active duty, he also was a prison guard at Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba.”

Since his time in Iraq and Afghanistan, John Rickert of New Carlisle completed Edison State’s Basic Peace Officer Academy in 2014. Rickert is currently a police officer in Arcanum, and working towards a Criminal Justice degree at Edison State while also continuing to serve as an active military reservist.

It was during a class exercise when Rickert was presenting his Personal Identity Shield, a contemporary version of a family crest, when he remarked that had the instructor brought a gold colored marker to class instead of all the regular blue, green, black, and red markers, he could have drawn a bright gold badge on his shield to represent his police work.

“John had military duty one day so he couldn’t be in class; I asked the other students how we could turn John’s disappointment into a positive exercise in raising self-esteem, a topic covered in the course,” said Schmidlapp.

“Everybody was in full agreement to embrace the idea offered: create a replica of the Personal Identity Shield he presented to the class, but enhance it with a bright gold police badge and handwritten notes thanking him for his 18 years of service and counting.”

On Tuesday, June 27 in front of classmates, faculty, and staff, Rickert was presented with an enhanced Personal Identity Shield adorned with notes of recognition from his classmates and a bright gold badge.

“I was not expecting this, kind of like when they [the military] called me up and said you’re going to GTMO,” said Rickert. “To my fellow students, thank you so much for your expressed gratitude. I thank you all for the acknowledgment.”

Edison State President Dr. Doreen Larson expressed gratitude for students like Rickert noting, “This was an excellent opportunity to honor and thank one of the many students at Edison State who have served our country through military service. John Rickert’s classmates and instructor April Schmidlapp took steps to highlight John’s story to the campus. I am grateful for the special opportunity to demonstrate our support for our veterans and reservists in a very meaningful way.”

Edison State recognizes the tremendous contribution that veterans and reservists make as citizens and students, and appreciates of the level of diversity, experience, and academic excellence they bring to campus. The College’s Office of Veterans Services provides veterans with a single point of contact for academic, referral, and personal support services to help ease access to higher education, foster success, and build community.

For more information regarding the veteran services available at Edison State Community College, visit