Maj. Homestead on the Home Front

Alumna Credits GWU for Military Career Trajectory that Helps Protect U.S. Against Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Attacks

Major Terri Lopez Homestead

GWU Alumna Major Terri Lopez Homestead (’07) has never been one to shy away from adventure. In fact, for most of her life, she has engaged in what can only be described as unusual, exciting, and even hazardous activities. Her philosophy is “to take advantage of every opportunity that is given”—especially when the road ahead seems difficult.

She is currently stationed at Fort Greely, Alaska, and is the first female crew leader for the 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard. Her daily mission as a National Guard officer is to defend the United States against intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) attacks.

The work, she says, is very rewarding. “The saying is, ‘We are the 300 defending the 300 million,’” Homestead declares. “Our crews are able to track, intercept, and destroy the nuclear weapon warhead of an incoming ICBM in its mid-course flight, outside the earth’s atmosphere. This is a 24-7, 365-days-a-year mission.”

She was attending community college in California when she was recruited to pole vault at Gardner-Webb University. The thought of moving across the country—far away from most of her family and friends—didn’t faze her. In fact, she credits her current career trajectory as a result of specific experiences she had at Gardner-Webb.

“If it wasn’t for Teri Hassell [former GWU Instructor of Health Education and Physical Education], I don’t think I would be an officer,” Homestead shared. “I was an enlisted soldier in the Army Reserves when I came to Gardner-Webb. Ms. Hassell was a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard, and she motivated me to join the GWU’s ROTC [Reserve Officer Training Corps] program. She mentored me throughout my journey both as a student and as a cadet.”

While at GWU, she majored in Health and Wellness and minored in Military Science. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 2007 and traveled the globe, serving U.S.-led humanitarian efforts in Central America and Europe before settling in Alaska with her husband in 2014.

“I had my first child in February 2017—around the same time I was selected to come to Fort Greely, Alaska, to become the senior tactical director for Echo Crew at the 49th Missile Defense Battalion,” she offered. “I recently learned that I am the first female tactical director at Fort Greely. Our rigorous training is validated on a continuous basis through both scheduled and no-notice evaluations with scenarios that emphasize operational realism.” She hopes to complete another 10 years in the military and then retire from service.

Homestead believes her time at Gardner-Webb helped set the stage for every adventure and opportunity that followed.

“If you want to be part of a community that genuinely cares about you and your success, Gardner-Webb is the place to be,” she encouraged. “The teachers are awesome, the coaches are great, and life on campus is very positive. Definitely put GWU on the top of your list.”

Learn more about the GWU Reserve Officer Training Corps program