Commitment to Country, Leadership and Academics
Aaron Krish
akris821@uwsp.edu

As we go through our college careers, many of us search for a purpose, for that one commitment to tie all our experiences together. What if you could find this commitment to serve through an opportunity to obtain a degree and be in the military at the same time?

The Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is a program designed to train college students to be future leaders of the U.S. Army and of the country through related coursework and physical training. On completion of the degree, students earn a commission as a second lieutenant.

“It’s about taking a commitment to serve,” said upperclassman Cadet Thomas Fritz. “I’ve wanted to join the military since I was in high school, and this seemed like the time to do it.”

“I was a senior in high school when I joined the National Guard,” said Cadet Stefanie Wolosek. “I got a call from a recruiter and met with him and basically asked a lot of questions. It felt like a calling to me.”

ROTC allows students the chance to join the military while achieving an undergraduate degree of their choice. As a cadet, students also have a military science minor involving physical readiness training, classroom coursework and leadership labs.

The program is split into basic and advanced levels of study.

“Your first two years as a cadet, you’re basically there acting as a sponge to learn as much as possible,” Fritz said. “If you choose to continue into the advanced course, it becomes more rigorous, and you work and plan ROTC into your daily routine.”

Students can join ROTC and participate in the first two years of the program without having an obligation to serve in the military. If they choose to continue on and finish their degree through ROTC, directly after graduation they actively serve and put their degrees to work within the military.

While the financial support from the program is a major factor in cadets’ joining, both Fritz and Wolosek explained further their reasons for joining the program. They explained that sometimes it is more than the money. Both intend to have a 20-year military career after graduation.

“It’s a great experience and a great honor to serve my country. My decision to do this was not based on the glory of it but more having a self-fulfilling experience,” Wolosek said.

Fritz’s experience joining was a little different. His father served in the military during the 1980s and provided a good life for his family. However, he did not want them to go through that and wanted Fritz to get an education. Eventually, Fritz’s father came around and allowed Fritz to join ROTC because it was a different approach to joining the military and allowed for an education.

“I did my research on the program and just had the feeling that it was the right thing to do at the time,” Fritz said. “When I first joined, I had a mentor and I’ve made myself available in the same way to new cadets. I’m proud to put on the uniform, and my family supports my decision now.”

ROTC offers cadets the leadership they need to succeed as officers in the U.S. Army while obtaining a college degree. On top of this experience, ROTC offers a lifestyle that is quite different than an average student’s. It offers a close-knit family and support system, a commitment to learn and a commitment to serve your country.