ROTC students return from month-long training

Students enlisted in the Rutgers Reserve Officers’ Training Corps have come home after testing their grit and intelligence at a month-long training camp at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Ft. Lewis, Wash.

The cadets have been training tirelessly, working from 4:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. for 28 days, said Cristina Trecate, Rutgers Army ROTC Public Affairs Officer.

Rutgers ROTC, which received the honor of best overall drill training last year, is renowned among college ROTC programs. Trecate said of the 273 universities nationwide that participate in the program, Rutgers is one of the best.

“Compared to most of the schools we encounter, our cadets are some of the most well-educated,” she said. “We have a lot of 3.9 or higher GPA engineers who are also ROTC, which is a lot of responsibility.”

Lt. Col. Samuel J. Welch, professor of Military Science, said Rutgers achieved this status because of the high standards set by the faculty.

Welch, who has served in the military for 21 years, said education is the program’s top priority.

“Everything else is second to how you perform at school,” Welch said. “I managed to graduate with a solid 3.2 GPA. The standard I set for cadets is a 3.1.”

Welch said the ROTC is great for any students interested in pursuing math, science, engineering or technology. The military is highly integrated with the industry and teaches students these disciplines under intense, pressing circumstances.

Second to academic performance, he said the ROTC puts a high emphasis on leadership. The course is designed to put high levels of stress on cadets to force them to be decisive, and test their mental and physical abilities.

“The goal is to get them to the point when, in the absence of leadership, [they are] able to pick the hard right instead of the easy wrong,” Welch said.

The next priority is physical fitness, he said. Training in the program is rigorous, which Lt. Robert Page, who graduated to an officer last year, can attest to.

When he first joined Rutgers ROTC, Page said he weighed 310 pounds. Since then, he’s lost 110.

“My experience with the program was great. I came into the program extremely overweight. Everyone that was with me believed in me and helped me get through it,” Page said.

He said the ROTC program taught him valuable lessons about life, especially the concept of balance. Due to his busy schedule, he learned the importance of making time for family, friends, and the little things in life.

What broadened his perspective was the people enlisted, who are extremely diverse, and working with people from an array of different backgrounds, he said.

Diversity is another one of their primary focuses, Welch said. Along with the program’s math, science, engineering, and technology courses, many of the classes focus on cultural awareness and language.

“There is no fairer organization for women and different ethnicities,” Welch said. “Everyone is treated equally because everyone is equally important in completing the mission.”

He said the male-female demographics actually match the ratio of the entirety of Rutgers University. Furthermore, female enrolment in the ROTC is higher than it has been in 10 years.

Students enrolled in ROTC do not have to pay tuition, provided that they complete their degree in four years.

Although tasking, Welch said the program is not on the same level of physical intensity as other forms of military enrollment, such as basic training or boot camp.

None of the Cadets are put into mortal danger during training, he said.

It also does not prepare students for deployment overseas, he said. But many students do pursue further military training during or after their involvement.

Upon graduation, students are required to spend a minimum of three years either in active duty, the National Guard or at the Reserves, as officers, Page said. Most who join end up spending more time in service to the military.

Last year, the program had a 100 percent graduation rate and the same is expected for this year’s class, Welch said.

“There has never been a moment in my career where I have been more proud to train America’s future business and military leaders,” Welch said.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated Lt. Robert Page weighs 110 pounds. It should have stated he lost 110 pounds.

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