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ROTC builds strong students

October 18, 2012

The UW-River Falls Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)  program will have three students graduating this school year in the top 20 percent in the nation.

According to Tabb Benzinger, assistant professor of military science at UWRF, having three of the 33 students graduating in the top 20 percent in the nation is phenomenal. Their names are Hailey Myran, Zachary Rossow and Charlotte Evans.

“It means a lot to me to be able to be a commissioned officer in the United States Army,” said Evans, a physics major. “It really puts it in perspective on the training and support system we’ve had here.”

Evans plans to graduate in December and will be a part of the Texas National Guard, Signal Corps. It will not be a full time commitment so she will be in graduate school studying either material science or condensed matter physics at the same time.

“I realized I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself,” said Evans. “I transferred schools to get a better opportunity.”

Evans explained that at her previous school she decided to try out ROTC for a semester to see how she liked it. After she realized that ROTC was for her, she transferred to UWRF because the program here was bigger and more nurturing.

“Had I not joined ROTC, I would have been a completely different person, I am happier now,” she said.

According to Benzinger, ROTC was introduced to the UWRF campus in 2006 as a trial based program until 2007 when the Board of Regents and the United States Army recognized it as a partnership on campus.

There are about 6,000 students currently enrolled in the ROTC program around the country. The UWRF ROTC program currently has 33 students with 22 of them male and 11 of them being female.

The schedule of an ROTC student depends on the level they are at in the program. Freshmen are required just one day of physical training (PT), sophomores have two days of PT required and juniors and seniors are required to do three days a week. PT goes from 6:15 a.m. until 7:15 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. However, those in the ROTC program who are also in sports are not required to participate in PT.

It’s also required that one weekend a semester students go to a field training exercise at Fort McCoy or another Army post.

“We also have one class a semester and we have a leadership lab that goes with it on Tuesday mornings for two hours,” said Rossow, a double major in economics and geography. “At the end of the day, ROTC takes someone that doesn’t know anything about the Army and teaches them everything they need to know so they can be a successful Lieutenant.”

Rossow spent three years getting his Associates Degree before coming to UWRF where he decided to join ROTC and go to school rather than just joining the Army. While some ROTC students choose to do Basic Training over the summer so they don’t miss school, Rossow took the 2010-2011 academic year off so he could go through Basic Training as well as Advanced Individual Training (AIT).

“It was one of my goals when I first came here so it makes me happy to accomplish it,” said Rossow about graduating not only in the top 20 percent, but the top 13 percent in the nation.

Due to Rossow graduating in May, he will be finding out what job he will receive at the end of this month. In December, he will be informed on where he will be stationed.

“After graduation I’ll start training and then go to my duty station,” said Rossow. “From there, who knows.”

Benzinger explained that the University is always welcoming the ROTC program with open arms and is willing to back the program up if they need support.

“ROTC is a small family inside the University, they support each other inside the classroom and outside the classroom,” Benzinger said. “It’s an assurance of learning and shows that the curriculum is well received by our students.”

Balancing schoolwork and ROTC may seem like a challenge, but according to Rossow and Evans, it actually helped with time management.

“For one, it taught me good time management skills,” said Evans. “I can still get a 4.0 grade point average while working out and training. It made me realize how much I can accomplish.”

Rossow also added that being more disciplined was also an added bonus of being in ROTC.
“I think after being in the Army, you become more disciplined with following directions and getting things done because in the army you have to,” said Rossow.

Both Evans and Rossow agree that joining the ROTC program has been life changing not only for their future, but as well as making friends. They bond over going through training and what it all entails.

“I’ve met some of my best friends because of the Army,” said Evans.

Evans encourages those who have even just a slight interest in ROTC to get involved.

“Even if you think that you possibly want to join the army, at least try one semester of ROTC,” Evans said. “Even if it’s not for you, you’ll be walking away with something good.”