It’s not easy to get a hold of Army Specialist D’Angelo Isaac. As a proud member of the 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, New York, he and the soldiers of his unit are prepared to answer the nation’s call anytime, anywhere. The 24-year-old petroleum supply specialist from Brooklyn was looking forward to driving down this month from upstate New York to speak with Guttman’s United Men of Color (UMOC) student group, to which he used to belong, but when the Army’s Promotion Board wants to see you, you make that change in plans. “My Sergeant Major says that you never really get a balance between work and life, but you can aim for harmony,” he notes with a smile. Isaac uses the analogy of making daily “investments,” when it comes to his family, like bringing his wife Sadeka flowers at the end of each week and waking his 7-month-old daughter at 7:40 each morning after PT. “You do that, and it’s like you’re storing up savings you can draw from.”

Saving and investing in family and his job is important to Isaac, and not just because he’s a soldier who can get called up at any time. Having a stable income and a home for Sadeka and their daughter is something he doesn’t take for granted. There were times when he had to sleep on trains, stay in shelters, and couch-surf. With the encouragement and support of his employer, he enrolled at Guttman in 2019, where, at an information session, he met his future wife. (“She was the most beautiful woman in the room,” he adds.) At the college, he found a mentor in Student Life Director Drew Bennett and helped augment the activities UMOC offered, even getting on the phone with Scott Mills, president of BET Media to set up an activity for the club. He threw himself into an internship with the NYPD Foundation, connecting with cops who served as role models along the way. Then COVID hit. “I was overcommitted, and I admit, studying wasn’t my first priority. I had an IEP in high school and academics were hard, but having to go online was a challenge for me.” Like many students around the world during the pandemic, he stopped out and looked for work.

Joining the military turned out to be a good fit for Isaac, making it possible for him to continue pursuing his education at SUNY’s Jefferson Community College. He takes his career as a soldier seriously as he studies for the Army Promotion Board, honing his petroleum supply skills that include fueling Black Hawk and Apache aircraft, meeting fitness standards, memorizing the history, world affairs, rules and regulations that comprise his chosen profession.

“Competence” he explains, “That’s my watchword. As a soldier, I want to be the best I can be. Paying attention to details while multi-tasking, being responsible, earning the trust of my peers. Safety is really about protecting the ones you care about, on the national level, globally, and close to home. The Army says, ‘It’s not about you, it’s about the people around you,’ and I believe that. I love people. I believe these are leadership values and these are the values that, at the end of the day, will bring me and my fellow soldiers home.”