Welcoming Lt. LaFountain to campus

Army lieutenant joins Gannon University as one of newest faculty members


Destiny Gonzalez, Staff Writer

Gannon University introduced its newest professor in the Department of Military Science, Lt. Daniel LaFountain, last month.
LaFountain was born in Killeen, Texas, and his lifestyle was heavily influenced by his military family; he called it a “family business.” Growing up in a military family and being in the military gave LaFountain the opportunity to travel, see other cultures and develop a broad understanding of people.
LaFountain described it as “looking at different walks of life.” One of LaFountain’s biggest influencers is his father, who also served in the U.S. Army. Along with other mentors and more experienced military officers, LaFountain’s parents started his journey in the military, but he also said that he had a “calling” that made him want to continue this path.
He described it as “that sense of wanting to be a part of something bigger than myself and that sense of duty and wanting to honor the nation and serve as a member of the military.”
“Military service is more than just the uniform and it’s more than the rank we wear,” LaFountain said. “It’s about a commitment to serving something greater than ourselves.”
LaFountain was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served in various positions and assignments while in Germany, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan for over 22 years. Prior to coming to Gannon, LaFountain was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he worked with senior officers and their staffs.
At Gannon, LaFountain uses his experience to guide students through the ROTC program, helping them reach their full potential physically and mentally to become future leaders of the U.S. Army.
The military science department initiated cross-enrollment with other Erie colleges in the area, and as a result, Mercyhurst University, Penn State Behrend College and Edinboro University joined the Gannon ROTC program. A total of 51 contracted students across all three schools will go off and eventually serve the nation. Also, the ROTC program became a general military science curriculum, meaning freshmen and sophomores are able to take these courses.
LaFountain said he enjoys working with the students because he is preparing the future military officers and it reminds him of being back in school. LaFountain went to an Army high school in Germany, and through the ROTC junior program he applied for a three-year ROTC scholarship that allowed him to go to college with free books and paid full tuition. That enabled him to graduate debt-free from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in chemistry and military science.
LaFountain’s goal is to attract and recruit students to the program so he can show them the opportunities and possibilities that the military has for them. He thinks that most people don’t know what ROTC is about and wants to improve upon that issue by getting their message to the right people. As officers they want to help the cadets to solve problems and develop mental skills.
“We create an environment for learning and how to think critically about things,” LaFountain said. “I am a firm believer that the two greatest teachers in life are pain and failure.”
Ximena Chavarria, a senior in the ROTC program, had nothing but positive things to say about LaFountain. Chavarria, who wasn’t expecting a new lieutenant, had the pleasure of meeting with him personally.
“I was excited to get to know him,” Chavarria said.
“Once I finally met him, I confirmed the things my peers had told me. He seems to be excited to join the program and his energy definitely makes a good first impression.”
Chavarria has had the opportunity to work with LaFountain a couple of times since his arrival and she said that he is very understanding, listens to suggestions from the students and takes them into consideration. She also said that he’s brought a positive environment to the ROTC program. LaFountain has engaged with all the different activities they have had this semester and has taken the time to meet all the students in the program.
LaFountain cares about all his cadets and takes the time to give each of them advice when they come to him, Chavarria said.
“At the same time, he also seems to be compassionate as he has mentioned multiple times that he is always available if we ever need to talk about anything,” Chavarria said.
Thus far in the semester, Chavarria believes LaFountain has made great progress and can look forward to the ROTC program growing and becoming more engaged with its cadets.
Daniela Morales Dardon, a junior in the ROTC program, said that working with LaFountain has been different from the other lieutenants because she believes he wants each member of the program to succeed in the Army.
“I feel like he shows great compassion for those who don’t know anything coming into this program like myself, so I appreciate that because I feel like I can get through this,” Morales Dardon said. “What stands out about him is his way of teaching how to become your own leader but still follow all regulations in the Army.”
Morales Dardon and Chavarria think LaFountain has been doing a great job at making sure that everyone interacts with one another and making sure that the juniors are ready for camp in the summer.
“I expect that he can bring all cadets from all schools together as one because we need unity in this program and we all need to rely on each other for help on anything,” Morales Dardon said.


[email protected]