ROTC program seeks to fulfill military goals, wishes for students
The Reserve Officers Training Corps also simply known as ROTC, has its own course of study at the university. Check it out here.
The program began a few years ago after Assistant Professor of Military Science and army mayor Chris Jay met with school officials and decided that bringing the academic specialty to the school would be beneficial to the students who were interested in learning about the military.
Since the program has started, the number of students joining has grown.
Jay said, “We started out with, I think, three, and then it went to six, and now we have almost 25 students in that three-year turnover.”
Senior political science major Paul Beachum, who is in his fourth year of the program, remembers when he started ROTC. Only two people were being commissioned as officers at the time.
For those who are familiar with ROTC from high school, the college program differs tremendously.
Jay said, “Basically the Jr. ROTC program is what is called an associateship-based program. They join a club and do an extracurricular activity, whereas here our main goal is to get people commissioned and so on.”
Jay explains what happens to upper level students who want to join the program
“Sometimes we accept graduate students too, but when they finish their degree on a certain level, they are commission as a second lieutenant, and they serve either National Guard Reserves or active duty,” he said.
When it comes to instructing the students, there are different gradations that each group will go through.
“Freshman and sophomore levels are just intro to the military for those who are not familiar with it. We talk about rank structure and things we do in formation. They get a lot of classes in time management,” Jay said.
The last two years are used to prepare the cadets to go out into the military world as lieutenants or join the Army.
Sophomore marketing major Garret Barber said that as a freshman he learned a lot from the upperclassmen.
“When a student gets to the junior year in the program, they will be evaluated. They begin to prepare for an assessment in which they will be sent to Washington for about 28 days,” he said.
Students do not have to have knowledge about the military prior to joining the ROTC program, but if they have completed the Jr. ROTC program or prior military service, they can be exempt from the first two years in the program.
“Everybody that’s going to commission through ROTC has to serve the last two years,” Jay said.
Barber heard about the program from a mutual friend.
“I came here, and I did not actually know if I wanted to try the program at first, but I ended up liking the courses and the professors. I did not know anything about the military before I got here. Our professors are really knowledgeable, and I have learned a lot,” he said.
Beachum was in a Naval Sea Cadets program with hopes of becoming a naval aviator. He continued on a path which eventually led him to the university.
“I switched over from the cadets to the Marine Corps. When I was in high school, I did the delayed entry program with the Marine Corps, and I was going into the military academy. I tore my ACL and got discharged, so I did not get to do basic training,” he said.
Beachum talked about how he started his journey into a military curriculum began when he was already enrolled in college.
“When I started UMHB my sophomore year … I got in touch with Maj. Jay about the ROTC program, and he got me a scholarship here.”
Barber admits although he has learned much from the program, he is still a work in progress and has a lot of growth ahead of him.
He said, “I’m not there yet, but I am working on the process of learning how to be a leader in the military. It’s an ongoing process.”