by Sydney Rhodes
In the last few years, the Army ROTC program at UT has implemented many things to create larger cadet involvement within the program and to set themselves apart from other university programs and cadets around the nation.
Most recently, the program has included a system which increases leadership skills, support of one another and student involvement. This process is initiated so that when seniors graduate from the program, they leave as leaders with a strong character.
In order to do so, every sophomore is paired with a freshman to help mentor new members of the program. Juniors are then responsible for several teams of freshman and sophomores, and seniors plan and resource the training in the program and lead the entire Spartan Battalion, UT’s U.S. Army ROTC cadre.
“I think the biggest thing that we try to ingrain is that we want servant leaders of character,” said Scott Greco, lieutenant colonel and Director of Army ROTC. “We want cadets to understand that their role is to make other people successful and that they don’t need to worry about personal success, because if they make those below them successful, they are going to thrive.”
Most universities ROTC programs around the country require students to have a 2.5 high school grade point average and score 180 points out of a possible 300 points on the army’s physical fitness test. At UT, both of those standards are raised to a 3.0 high school grade point average and a score of 250 points on the physical fitness test, therefore holding UT’s program to a higher standard.
“Because we have bumped up these standards, when our senior cadet’s apply for their specialties in the army, most get their number one choice,” said Greco. “This is a priority for me, because we are trying to commision these leaders into the Army and we want them excited to work the job they’re about to work.”
Additionally, the Army ROTC program has boosted their volunteering within the Tampa community. As a partnership with the Children’s Cancer Center of Tampa, the cadets regularly volunteer over weekends and build programs to place the children in for a few hours. The senior class has also established a relationship with a veterans hospital, for a chance to interact with U.S. Veterans during their recreation hours.
“The type of things we do in this program is all compatible to leadership and character building skills for our cadets,” said Major Orlando Torres, professor of military science. “We are always looking to improve cadets national rankings and improving their resources in order to do so.”
Outside of the community involvement, the UT Army ROTC program has also instituted a Staff Ride Program, which are similar to field trips. A staff ride focuses on the universal aspects of warfighting and provides important information in military operations.
Rather than going on a trip to historic sites and being presented with information from an expert, UT cadets research prior to their visits and then teach one another about the warfare at each fort or historical site. They perform staff rides on UT’s campus, given the history; Castillo de San Marcos Fort in St. Augustine, Florida; Dade Battlefield in Bushnell, Florida; and Chickamauga Battlefield in Chattanooga, Georgia.
“What this does, is not only gives confidence in teaching each other, but it really connects our cadets with our military history and helps them understand how to appreciate our past as they get ready to joining this profession,” said Greco.
As the UT Army ROTC program looks to build in ways to benefit cadets the best they can, Greco said they will always remain to the core values in leadership and character building.
“The most beneficial thing I’ve taken away from this program so far is the leadership skills,” said James Dooley, sophomore criminology & criminal justice major. “The way we are put in positions to help students younger than us, while you’re still a young college student yourself is great. It really prepares you for a future in military.”
Sydney Rhodes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org