Call to Duty

Call to Duty: Kane Helder ’27

Kane Helder '27

Name: Kane Helder ’27

Hometown: Dothan, Alabama

Service Branch: U.S. Army

Major: International Studies

Path to VMI:

“I knew I wanted to go into the military. And so I looked at all the military schools—looked at West Point, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, [The] Citadel, VMI. And then I got the national ROTC scholarship. … Once I applied to VMI, they reached out to me with the Call to Duty Scholarship. And so—free school … that made it a pretty easy decision. I’d heard about the reputation of VMI. I heard about the brother rat spirit. And it just sounded like a great place to be a great place to be from.

“I came up here around either mid-January [or] February [of] my senior year. I was just talking to all the people, talking to the cadets, talking to some of the [commandant’s] staff. Just the unity and brotherhood, along with how educated and determined everybody seemed—I just knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

“I can’t think of any other college that offers anything like [the Call to Duty Scholarship]. ... it’s what made me able to afford to be able to come here.”

Cadet Kane Helder ’27 Call to Duty Scholarship Recipient

Financial Challenges:

“The cost for out-of-state was a lot. So, I think the four-year ROTC scholarship covered just tuition. Room and board was still upwards of like $10,000 a semester. My family definitely wouldn’t have been able to afford that without having to go into debt, and I didn’t want to have to have student debt coming out of college. So, until I got the Call to Duty Scholarship, I was probably not going to be able to come to VMI. But with the Call to Duty Scholarship that made it completely free, and this being the college I wanted to come to, it helped out a lot.

“I wouldn’t be here without [Call to Duty]. Especially for the out-of-state cadets, it’s just so expensive to come here. It’s almost impossible, and especially from my family—my dad’s a pastor. I have five siblings, so we didn’t have a lot of money to throw around. So the Call to Duty scholarship—without it, I definitely wouldn’t even be here.”

Finding Out about Call to Duty:

“I want to say it was just a regular day; [I] came home from school and both my parents were sitting there waiting and told me—showed me the letter. We had a big celebration that night because I was going to VMI. … When I found out, it’s hard to explain—just excitement, only excitement. Thankfulness—that’s really the only way to describe it. It was a great day.”

Why Call to Duty Matters:

“In my case, at least, it’s helped a lot. And I can’t think of any other college that offers anything like it. The fact that it will cover … room and board was huge for me because I had the ROTC scholarship, which paid for my tuition. And then, I had the Call to Duty Scholarship, which paid for room and board. And both of those things on their own were too much for me to be able to afford. And so … it’s what made me able to afford to be able to come here.”

Support cadets who want to serve.

Learn More about Call to Duty Scholarships
  • Mary Price

    Mary Price Development Writer/Communications Specialist

    The development writer plays a key role in producing advancement communications. This role imagines, creates, and produces a variety of written communication to inspire donors to make gifts benefiting VMI. Utilizing journalistic features and storytelling, the development writer will produce content for areas such as Annual Giving, stewardship, and gift planning.