CALEDONIA — Sophia (Sophie) Thacker was named to the President’s Honor Roll at the University of North Georgia (UNG) for achieving a 4.0 grade point average —- commendable. And perhaps more than commendable is the journey toward her career goal. It is turning into an odyssey of challenges and grit.
Thacker wanted to be in the criminal justice field since she was young. First, she wanted to be a police officer; but in high school she set her sights on the FBI.
At only 5 feet 1 inches tall, to look at her, one might not imagine her able to complete FROG Week at the University of North Georgia (UNG). FROG Week is a military orientation program that transitions incoming students from civilian life to the life of a military cadet. It is a grueling week of mental and physical challenges.
She did survive, though, and now she’s a cadet.
During FROG Week, she woke at whatever odd early morning hours leadership pounded on her door. She survived rappelling, carrying a ruck pack in 100-degree temperatures for six miles, running up a mountain, and eating MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).
“It wasn’t the physical part that was hard for me,” Thacker said, “It was the constant screaming [by the leaders].” Even if a task was performed correctly, something was found to criticize.
UNG is one of six or seven senior military colleges in the nation and commissions more than 100 officers into the Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve each year.
Thacker’s path into the Army began long before FROG Week. It started at River Valley High School and continued as she completed the nexr two years at Tri-Rivers Career Center in the Criminal Justice program. She also took College Credit Plus classes.
She was also active in extracurricular activities, including varsity cheerleading.
“At lunch they would have competitions where the Army guys would come in and try to recruit. They would say, who can do the most sit-ups, push-ups, whatever to win a t-shirt. And here she is in her little cheerleading uniform, and she’d win them all,” her mother Melanie Collins said.
Thacker left high school with five of those t-shirts.
And in addition to cheerleading, she was involved in Skills USA, National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, and Women in Science. She also did Jiujitsu at Marion. Jiujitsu is a martial art and combat sport based on ground fighting—and often Thacker’s opponents are law enforcement officers.
“She took the ASVAB [Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery] and she scored extremely high. The highest score you can get is a 99 and she got a 97. As soon as she did that, and the scores came out, every college that you can think of in the United States was calling to try to recruit her for their ROTC,” Collins said.
Thacker considered West Point, but West Point didn’t offer a criminal justice degree, so she eventually choose UNG.
At her 2021 high school graduation, Thacker wore three tassels on her cap. She also wore honors cords and medals that she said clanked together when she walked. She graduated in the top 1.2% of her class at Tri-Rivers and the top 7% at River Valley. She received a $140,655 academic scholarship from “Uncle Sam,” courtesy of the United States Army, that will pay for her college tuition at UNG.
She also received a scholarship from the college for her room and board.
“I did all of my classes at Marion Tech, so by the time I graduated, I almost had an associates degree,” Thacker said. “Now I’m a double major because I’m about to finish that major [as only a freshman at UNG].”
Her other major is psychology. She said when dealing with people, it’s helpful to understand them; and “psychology goes hand in hand with her career path.”
“I like the campus,” she said. “It’s very nice. It’s a fairly small campus. All of my classes are under 20 people. I like having a more personalized class. And all of my honors classes are two or three people.”
In August she will contract with the Army. Contracted students enter the Army as an officer, a second lieutenant,upon graduation.
Thacker joined a sorority on campus and the military police, a move that is calculated to help prepare her for the FBI. She also works in catering at the college. Currently home for the summer, she is working at TJ Maxx and she just paid cash for a car.
When she graduates in 2025, she will have a degrees in criminal justice with a forensic concentration, a degree in psychology and a minor in sociology. She will also be a certified police officer.
And if her sights are still set on it, next stop is the FBI.
Dahlongea is the town UNG is located at. Thacker