It’s tough for us to imagine the feeling of being put in charge of a group of people’s actual lives, and knowing if they died it would be on our watch. The military is a scary thing to think about when you imagine yourself in that situation. It makes you wonder if you would panic and freeze up, or handle the situation the way it should be handled. We have a program on campus that prepares individuals for those exact kinds of situations.
Missouri Western has had a Reserve Officer Training Core (ROTC) since 1971. A training program couldn’t last 40 years if it wasn’t legit. The ROTC is a leadership development program that specifically trains men and women into becoming an elite class of military officers. When a student who has completed the program joins the Army, they automatically start out as a Second Lieutenant. Those who enlist without the training of ROTC start out as privates, and would have to work their way up over time for an officer’s position. For Western student Noland Stark, the leadership role is definitely something he wants to take on.
“Naturally I am a little nervous at the thought of being deployed, but the nervousness doesn’t compare to the excitement for the opportunity to serve my country and lead others who want to do the same,” Stark said. “I’m confident because I know that if I do get deployed, I’ll have a great set of skills that the Army prepared me with.”
Stark has known since high school that the military was the path he wanted to go down, even though the thought of being a leader in the military was nothing new to him. After all his parents met in ROTC, and two of his older brothers completed the program before him.
Not everyone in ROTC had it all planned out before they came to college though. Not Patrick Klein anyway, who didn’t know it was what he wanted to do until after he enrolled for classes at University of Missouri, Kansas City. Klein got information on ROTC and joined after he found out the financial benefits it would produce and the career options it would offer.
Financial benefits from the ROTC could add up to paid tuition, additional scholarships and allowances for books. People who join ROTC in the midst of their college years can receive numerous scholarships and grants to pay for additional schooling and existing student loans.
“I’m a criminal justice major, and being in ROTC has opened so many doors for me,” Klein said. “It’s going to help put me through law school, because my ultimate goal is to become a lawyer.”
Another way ROTC helps individuals career-wise is its correlation with specialty schools. Most people in the ROTC program want a slot in attending one of the offered specialty schools. The different schools students try to get into are Airborne, Air Assault, Cadet Troup Leader Training and Cadet Culture Language Program. CTLT consists of shadowing and observing different officers throughout the country, while CULP is an internship-like program that sends you to a foreign country.
Rosy Padialla participated in the three-week airborne program. The program taught her everything she needed to know in order to jump safely. She went from learning how to jump and land on the ground, to jumping and landing from towers, to jumping and landing from planes.
“ROTC is really a life-changing experience,” Padialla said. “I never knew when I first enrolled in college that I would be jumping out of planes before I graduated. I’m doing things that I never thought I could do.”
The ROTC program has produced highly-qualified individuals for leadership positions for the last 40 years and is continuing to do so. Anyone interested in more information on the program can visit www.missouriwestern.edu/rotc or visit the ROTC office on the first level of Wilson Hall.