Two Alums Served with the National Guard at the Inauguration

Published on: February 1, 2021

Two Alums Served with the National Guard at the Inauguration

Neumann University was well represented at President Biden’s January 20 inauguration thanks to Dontae Phillips ’10 and Sara Ropski ’20, who are members of the National Guard. Both Phillips and Ropski were deployed to Washington, D.C., for inauguration day and spent several weeks protecting the capital city.

Phillips and Ropski joined the 25,000 National Guard troops that were in Washington on inauguration day. Both soldiers were housed in hotels for several week surrounding January 20. For both, it was a day they will not soon forget.

“It was a very peaceful transfer of power,” Phillips said. “I was actually able to see President Biden sworn in, and I was moved by his speech. I was awestruck to witness this historic moment. It was a humbling experience for me.”

Phillips, a Political Science graduate, serves in the 175th Battalion of the Maryland National Guard. He was recently promoted to chaplain. While in Washington, Phillips, who does not carry a weapon, joined more than 50 National Guard chaplains from across the country offering support and guidance to the troops.

“As a chaplain, I cannot bear arms. We don’t want to seem hostile, but we have a religious affairs specialist accompanying us and they carry a weapon to protect us from hurt, harm or danger,” Phillips explained.

Phillips experienced much gratitude from elected officials, such as senators and representatives, for providing protection during the inaugural festivities. The events of January 6 were still very fresh in the minds of these officials. 

“I thought I would be home on my couch watching the inauguration. I would have never imagined that I would actually be there,” said Philips, who got a wave from President Biden as his motorcade drove past.

Ropski, a CDM graduate and Pennsylvania National Guard member since 2016, is from Folcroft, Pennsylvania. She left for Washington on January 8 to serve in a public affairs and administration role at brigade headquarters. Her responsibilities included taking photos of, and conducting interviews with, the troops for press release purposes.

“I was out there walking and talking with the soldiers for morale purposes too,” Ropski said.

Like Phillips, Ropski had never attended a presidential inauguration before January 20. While she was focused on doing her job, the importance of the day was not lost on her.

“It was a lot to take in knowing there could be a threat, but everything went smoothly without any issues. It was like wow we’re actually here and I never thought it would happen,” she recalled.

Ropski is currently getting her master’s in Strategic Communications at Liberty University. While she plans on continuing her career with the National Guard for the next several years, she also has plans for an additional career in athletic communications.

Phillips, who received his master’s in Public Administration from Villanova University and is currently working on his doctorate in Language and Literacy, plans on transitioning from his religious ministry to the political arena.

“I love the ministry, but I also like being outside of the pulpit when the decisions are being made. My ultimate goal is to run for political office in Maryland,” said Phillips, who has his sights set on the governor’s office!






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