The Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC, is a college program for pre-commissioned officer training and education that students are able to join. Being in this program, they are able to prepare to be officers in the Army when they graduate, but before that, they can choose whether or not they want to join.
Members who do choose to be in the program can get up to 100 percent tuition covered in scholarship, $1,200 per year book allowance ($600 per semester) and a $420 monthly stipend. However, while these benefits may seem quite satisfying, the qualifications for these are quite up there. They must be a U.S. citizen, a minimum 2.5 GPA, a 19+ ACT or 1000+ SAT score, meet army height and weight standards, pass the Army Physical Fitness Test, satisfactory completion of Department of Defense Physical Exam and an interview with the professor of military science.
After that, students are usually required to serve four years on active military duty and others serve six, it all depends on how they are placed. Regardless, ROTC members learn skills and create unforgettable experiences that will be of good use to them, whether or not they decide to fully join the army.
Students at the Kent State ROTC program share their experiences on what they’ve been through from freshman to senior year.
James Pedley - Freshman in ROTC
“For a while now I knew I wanted to do nursing and I knew I wanted to go into the military so ROTC was a really good fusion of both,” Pedley said.
Pedley has enjoyed his experience here and is continuously working toward becoming better in the program both physically and mentally.
“I would say one of my favorite memories would be the Ranger Challenge experience.” Pedley said. “You’re around really like-minded people who then become your team of people that are taken in to compete in a series of events.”
The Ranger Challenge is specifically aimed toward those who are wanting to be a part of ROTC, not just those who were there to check things out. Intense physical training tests were conducted which required members to work together in support of each other and take things more seriously.
“There’s really not just one person, but a lot of the people here are really helpful. Everyone just wants to help each other and see everyone be successful,” Pedley says.
Upperclassmen tend to help out a lot of the underclassmen with responsibilities and new experiences that they might not be used to during this time.
“Overall, I’d say my experience here has been pretty good and I love it,” Pedley says. “It gets stressful sometimes but now I’m definitely better at taking on multiple challenges and utilizing my time.”
Not everyone is expected to know what they want to do right away and some members joined just to experience something different.
Morgan Hawk - Junior in ROTC
Morgan Hawk was just trying things out at first with the program, and ended up loving it.
“In eighth grade when I went to Ireland and watched the Navy Notre Dame game, I saw the Naval Academy go out on the field and, honestly, I was starstruck,” Hawk said. “So basically I just kept it in the back of my head and every time I would see the military, my eyes were always on them.”
Hawk didn’t necessarily know where she wanted to go, but she knew the military had a spot for her. After high school, she decided to try it out for herself and ended up loving it all.
“It’s really fun and it keeps me on my toes. I’m a person who never wants to settle and I always want to do different things,” Hawk said. “One of my favorite things I’ve done here was when I did Mountain Man, which was a team marathon that’s 26.2 miles.”
Hawk ran with five people as a full-female team and the race was a tribute to the Gold Star family. Every year, Kent State’s women’s team contributed to Ashley White, a Kent State Alumna cadet who died when she was stationed in Afghanistan. The team participating must wear a full service uniform along with their 35 pound ruck and they all must cross the finish line together.
“It took seven hours and four minutes to complete, and we had to really run up hills and go up mountains,” Hawk said. “It was honestly the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience that was just so much fun.”
However, not everyone goes in solely because of fun; others are covered financially and are looking for the education ROTC has to offer.
Dylan Hicks - Senior in ROTC
Dylan Hicks, a senior who’s graduating this semester, shares his experience of how it’s been for him after being in ROTC for the past four years.
“I’ve honestly always wanted to join the military and I needed a college education. I was offered an Army National Scholarship, which pretty much gave me a full ride,” Hicks said.
The competition is intense, especially when it comes to having a full ride for college. Usually only 20 out of 2500 get the full ride and sometimes it isn’t even fully promised. When given the scholarship, one is expected to be one of the best and have higher expectations.
Hicks talks about his experience at FTX, which is the Field Training Exercise that goes on for a weekend during the fall and spring semester. FTX gives members a chance to really challenge themselves through training and gives them a chance to see what the world of military is really like.
“One of the best days was during FTX, when everyone followed their directions and everyone did what they were told to do, even though we were getting smoked in 90 degree weather, everyone was really passionate about what they were doing,” Hicks said.
Training included intense exercises in the heat, staying out and camping in the woods, learning how people in a squad work and simply just being with the same people 24/7. Depending on which semester it is, fall experiences get more heat and spring experiences get the cold, so there really isn’t a middle ground.
Hicks claims that after his years here, it changed his demeanor and mannerisms, helping him actually understand other people better socially and how to react to different kinds of people, something he didn’t fully learn until he got to ROTC.
“I’m actually quite intense and really straightforward and a lot of people don’t like that,” Hicks said. “I had to develop myself in a way where I can approach everyone and I really didn’t find out until last year.”
Bridget Lin covers ROTC and Military. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.