ROTC — An Excellent Experience

Sophomore Adam Hoover, Freshman Brandon Bittler, Cadet Company Commander and YSU Senior Tyler Strohecker, and Sophomore Mathew McIntire of the YSU Army ROTC pose with the canon that they use during football games.  Photo by Dustin Livesay  |  The Jambar
Sophomore Adam Hoover, Freshman Brandon Bittler, Cadet Company Commander and YSU Senior Tyler Strohecker, and Sophomore Mathew McIntire of the YSU Army ROTC pose with the canon that they use during football games. Photo by Dustin Livesay | The Jambar

ROTC is a program that any student can partake in and learn great leadership skills.

“ROTC is not just for people looking to go into the Army,” said Captain Stephanie Crawford, recruiting operations officer for Youngstown State University.

A variety of students get involved in the program, Crawford said that it’s better to have different types of people in order to get a variety of ways to solve a problem.

At this point, there are around 40 students in the program. According to Crawford, they usually start out with more students but the number tapers down. Students who are enrolled in ROTC are on a path to become an Army officer.

If a student isn’t looking to join the Army they can still enroll in the program. Students can join for any reason, if they want to get in shape, out of curiosity; their parents are making them, etc.

Elizabeth Rogenski, a freshman student in her first year of ROTC, said that she originally didn’t have an interest in ROTC, but when she was at orientation, it piqued her interest.

“I’ve always felt a little connection to the military, so I just wanted to try it out and see what it was like,” Rogenski said.

Each student has their own personal reason as to why they joined ROTC.

“I was a high school football player and after graduating high school, I didn’t continue on the football track, and I was looking for a place that I could fit in again and find that brotherhood, and this was a great fit for that,” said Matthew McIntire, a sophomore student in his second year of ROTC. When McIntire graduates, he will be a second lieutenant in the Army.

McIntire said that this will be a great career-starter and has opened opportunities for him to go to other countries.

“Hopefully, after graduation, I can branch active duty, so my career path is going to be hopefully active duty somewhere in the armor field of the Army, and I plan on staying there until full retirement,” McIntire said.

The first couple years of ROTC are a trial basis, to see if students like it. There is no military obligation until a student signs a contract. Most come in just as students interested in ROTC, and as their involvement in the program goes on, students are made aware of scholarship opportunities available to them.

Also, if a student is currently enrolled in YSU, no matter which year they’re in, students can join ROTC.

“We teach [students] Army life fundamentals, which is an introduction to the Army values, and based on those values, they learn how to become leaders of character,” Crawford said.

Students first learn how to conduct themselves, then as a team with four or five people, then as a squad with about 10 people, and then as a platoon, which consists of about 40 people.

Rogenski said that she has learned to be a better leader and how to react to tragic situations. Freshman students start out as a Private First Class where they learn basic soldier responsibilities and learn accountability for themselves. They ascend in rank as they continue in the program.

“If you are continuing into the third year, that’s strictly for cadets who have contracted and are receiving an Army scholarship of some sort and a monthly stipend,” Crawford said. “Those cadets can go into one of the Army basic branches.”

Some students who have a passion for something, but feel that they can’t get a career from that, can study that passion while in ROTC, knowing that they have employment with the Army. When students go into the Army, they are trained for what the Army needs them to do.

For example, students who are studying accounting at YSU could become an Army engineer. For some of the things that the Army trains a person to do, that person doesn’t need an undergraduate degree.

“They’ll give you the on-the-job training that you need,” Crawford said.

However, if someone wants to go into the medical core, nursing core, veterinary core, Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps and Army Chaplain Corps, they would need an undergraduate degree.

An opportunity that is offered to cadets every summer is the Cultural Understanding Language Program (CULP) where cadets will go to another country and be immersed in a new environment. The location of where they go for CULP varies every year. This year. students are going to Hungary, Serbia and Greece.

McIntire is one of the students who are a part of this program.

“I believe I’ll be teaching English to Hungarian cadets, and my time over there will be a little over a month.” McIntire said.

The ROTC tries to encourage good habits; it tries to teach students how to take ownership of themselves and their decisions.

“We are not here to pressure anyone into military service, but we do want to encourage people to succeed. So whether they come into the army or they don’t come into the army, we want them to be successful in the path that they choose for themselves,” Crawford said.