Alongside academic and organizational commitments, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps students dedicate hours of their college experience to preparing for the U.S. military. ROTC is a nationwide program that trains students for work in either the Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force in exchange for scholarship opportunities. While the reasons for joining ROTC vary, many students across the branches take pride in the training they do, looking forward to the future ROTC holds for them.
Midshipman Della Wiener, an ROTC naval cadet, signed up because she felt she was missing out on doing something important in her life. Although she initially didn’t know what ROTC was, once learning about the program, Wiener knew it was the right place for her.
“I joined ROTC, though, because I wanted to do something for the greater good,” Wiener said. “I was here for freshman year, and I just didn’t feel like I was fulfilling my purpose at college fully. I just felt like I should be doing more, and so I started looking into ROTC branches.”
In contrast to Wiener, Emily Campbell, MS4 cadet battalion commander, joined ROTC because of family obligations. While she originally did not wish to be a part of the program, she is now thankful she is a member of the Army ROTC branch.
“I honestly did not want to be in ROTC whatsoever, but [my parents] kind of prompted me to do it,” Campbell said. “I can say though that after about a semester doing it, I’m super glad that they made me because I wouldn’t want to be in anything else.”
ROTC consists of many different elements, including physical training, lab work and other outside activity options like the Rifle/Pistol Team for the Navy or the Cannon Crew for the Army. According to Ben Steger, first-year Army cadet, physical training can be intense, but ROTC helps everyone grow no matter their abilities.
“Everyone has their own levels,” Steger said. “People understand that, so when we do [exercise] as a company, we motivate each other. We help each other out. We are definitely like ‘Hey, come on. You can walk with me, match my pace. Like, let’s do this thing together.’”
Campbell has seen this to be true with her own experience. Previously not able to run a full lap around the stadium, Campbell is now one of the top cadets in her group. Additionally, Campbell said ROTC has helped her grow as a person, both in public speaking and leadership ability.
“I think ROTC in general has kind of taught me ... that I’m capable [of] a lot more than I think and capable of making decisions and taking charge when I need to,” Campbell said. “You just need to be confident in yourself, and I think that this program especially has really brought that out for me.”
One of the highlights of the ROTC program for Campbell is the relationships she has fostered with her fellow cadets. Campbell believes ROTC’s unique program allows for teamwork to develop in a way that is different from other organizations.
“I think because [of] the camaraderie that I experienced, [this] is unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of before,” Campbell said. “I was really involved with things in high school like band and things like that, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as close to a group of people as the way that we are in ROTC because the things that we learn and the way that we have to train brings us a lot closer together than really anything else can make you be.”
Dedicated to the program and its values, Steger plans to take ROTC’s work to his future career. He has an eight-year contract with the Army through ROTC and plans to pursue active duty. Steger hopes to combine his military training and engineering major for his future career.
“I plan on going much longer than my first service contract,” Steger said. “So with that in mind, I’d like to ... be all in and make this my day-to-day job ... I have a skill which could be put in a civilian role — it would be engineering — however, I believe that switching back and forth would be very difficult for me.”
Planning on pursuing a career with the National Guard, Campbell is ready for what ROTC has planned for her in the future. Most of all, though, Campbell is prepared to serve her community.
“That is what it ultimately is about: to just be a servant to your community,” Campbell said.
Edited by Brooke Collier | firstname.lastname@example.org