Something that seems to carry over from high school to college are the misconceptions many people have of JROTC and ROTC. People see cadets as the soldiers on campus who happen to do their training on school grounds. And while they’re not entirely wrong, a cadet is comprised of so many more dimensions than that.
As someone who was in the program in high school and chose to do ROTC at UT, I know firsthand the reality of the program. However, as a freshman, I have yet to even wear the uniform. and haven’t had a lot of people question me about the lifestyle. Honestly I probably wouldn’t be able to tell them much. And while I do still know what happens “behind the curtain,” a better account could be given from cadets who have been in the program for a few years.
ROTC stands for Reserve Officer Training Corps. Understandably, this causes the misconception that everyone who does ROTC has to join the military. While this is true to an extent, many people don’t know that unless they are contracted beforehand, cadets have a two-year gap before being required to fully commit to the Army.
“While ROTC isn’t for everyone, even if you’re not interested in joining the Army, take the MS1 or MS2 [freshman and sophomore] classes and maybe come to PT, for the experience,” says junior government and world affairs major John Norberto.
ROTC requires a commitment that is not for everyone. Physical Training, or PT, is three days a week and starts at 6 a.m. Most cadets can get up around 5:30 and still arrive on time. However, if you’re a commuter like Norberto, you may have to get up as early as four o’clock. And that is followed up by classes for the rest of the day.
“I spend a lot of time in the library, where it’s quiet and I can get the most out of my time. It’s important to be present in whatever you’re doing and plan your whole day,” said sophomore international and cultural studies major Katelyn Brown. “I like the atmosphere and the people that are in the program. I like the sense of pride of being in the program; it gives me a purpose and direction in training for the future.”
This holds true for many of the cadets. We’re proud of the opportunity to represent our country and of what we strive to be.
What many people don’t seem to realize about cadets in the program is that we’re just like anybody else. A little crazy? Maybe. But we still take part of everyday life on campus and are even involved in other organizations in school.
“I am the president of the Baptist Collegiate Ministries, the executive producer at the College Republicans, a member of President’s Leadership Fellows and I’m a Pathways mentor,” said Brown.
Norberto says he barely fits the stereotypical army persona.
“My personality doesn’t quite fit the image of someone in the military. I’m a Whovian, I read comic books, and watch a little bit of anime; I do impersonations of singers.You don’t have a set robotic mode in joining ROTC; it’s a bunch of different people coming together for one thing,” he said.
Another benefit of the program is its sense of community and provision of great relationships that go beyond just the Battalion. “We’re all in it together. I’ve made a lot of friends, study partners, and a good support system,” said Brown.
That’s not to say we don’t make friendships outside of the Battalion. “It’s just different. In ROTC, we’re all there for the same purpose in that sense we’re all on the same page; we come in already having something in common. On the flip side, there are more people to get to know throughout the school.” Brown said.
Hopefully, this helped to clear up some misconceptions you may have. If you have further questions, feel free to go up to a cadet and ask: we don’t bite.