Summer filled with training for UMHB ROTC cadets

Many college students spend their summers making money at a part-time job, going on vacation or simply catching up on much-needed sleep. However, nine of the students in UMHB’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program did something a little different this summer.

All nine cadets traveled to Fort Knox, Kentucky to complete Advanced Camp, a month-long summer training program for upcoming seniors. This program is considered to be the most important training event for a cadet, and successful completion of the program is a prerequisite for commissioning as a second lieutenant in the Army.

During the Advanced Camp, cadets participate in classroom, field and weapons training, and they learn how to be successful officers. There they are assessed in their leadership skills, and they are tested in their physical skills.

“The participants pass a physical fitness test, plus they take part in three road marches of 6, 8 and 12-miles with a 35-lb rucksack (an army version of an oversized backpack),” Senior military science instructor Carl Cook said. “They must complete a land navigation assessment and basic rifle marksmanship as part of nine mandatory requirements.”

Advanced Camp serves as the final assessment for senior cadets before they are assigned to a branch of the Army. This year, six UMHB students will commission—one in December and five in May.  Spring UMHB graduate Matthew Boquiren already commissioned as a second lieutenant at the completion of camp in July, is awaiting his branch assignment with the National Guard.

In addition to completing Advanced Camp, three cadets participated in the Nurse Summer Training Program, a unique experience that prepares cadets for careers as Army nurses. Cadet Eunice Chanco traveled to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland to complete the summer internship. Cadets Caroline Vining and Sydney McMurrey traveled to Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Fort Belvoir, Virginia to complete the 28-day program.

During their time in Fort Belvoir, Vining and McMurrey completed over 156 clinical hours in multiple medical units and participated in a research project.

“Training this summer helped me [prepare] for my future as a nurse,” said Vining, who is preparing to graduate in December. “It required me to work in a stressful environment where I was constantly being assessed on my leadership skills under pressure. This helped prepare me for future events where I may be faced with difficult and stressful situations.”

Some cadets traveled beyond the borders of the U.S. this summer.

Senior pre-med biology major and military science minor Benjamin Kenneaster spent the first part of his summer at Advanced Camp in Fort Knox, he then traveled to Germany to work with the United States European Command (EUCOM) with Public Affairs Theater Outreach. During his time in Germany, he planned and participated in a Normandy staff ride, which included an in-depth presentation by Kenneaster on Operation Deadstick, a Brittish Army airborne operation carried out during the WWII D-Day (June 6, 1944) landings in Normandy.

In partnership with other European countries’ militaries, Kenneaster participated in some fitness competitions, earning a gold rating in the German Sports Badge, and an advanced rating in the Austrian Sports Badge.

“This summer exposed me to challenging opportunities that have rapidly developed my career by offering an expedited understanding of how and why the Department of Defense functions at the highest level as well as preparing me tactically to be a uniquely prepared second lieutenant in the U.S. Army,” said Kenneaster. “The knowledge and confidence I gained this summer has been invaluable and an extremely rare opportunity to realize my goals, expand upon them and know my greatest ambitions are possible.”

Junior criminal justice major Alexandra Dalle traveled to Bulgaria to help further U.S. relations with the Bulgarian military through field and language training in the Cultural Understanding and Leadership Program (CULP).  She spent five days at Fort Knox to complete specialized training in these areas before she took the trip.

“Being in Bulgaria for a month, I learned a lot about how fortunate we are to live in the United States,” Dalle said. “My favorite part was being able to visibly impact lives by repainting schools and teaching English to the Bulgarian military.”

Now that the school year is back in full swing, the cadets have returned to UMHB’s campus. They will participate in several classroom and field training experiences in order to prepare for life in the Army. In October, UMHB’s cadets will participate in the Fall Field Training Exercise in Fort Hood, and the annual Ranger Challenge, competing with other schools’ ROTC programs within the Central Texas region. To learn more about ROTC, visit


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