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ROTC offers opportunities beyond education

April 20, 2012

For the 30 students who are involved in the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at UW-River Falls, being a part of the program has more to it besides earning a degree.

The ROTC program offers students who are interested in joining the army to experience it by not committing over the course of four years.

While a part of the ROTC program, students can earn a minor in military science while also pursuing the major of their choice. It is this way the ROTC program at UWRF is unique compared to some other programs offered through the United States Army.

Other programs require students to sign a contract after two years of going through the program or by joining the ROTC program.

“It’s like test-driving a car, you can either join after graduation or not,” said Major Tabb Berzinger, assistant professor of military science.

While in ROTC, students are affiliated with the U.S. Army but are not in the army. ROTC is designed to put students in training to produce officers for the U.S. Army.

“ROTC trains in the art of leadership and the art of warfare,” Berzinger said.

ROTC provides 70 percent of the officers in the Army and the other 30 percent are from military-based institutions. If a graduate of ROTC chooses to go into the army after graduation, they are guaranteed a job and commission.

Melande Krupa is part of the ROTC program, a junior and business major at UWRF.

“ROTC is a door through an opportunity to choose a career in life,” said Krupa. “It shapes well-rounded leaders.”

Besides training to become officers in the U.S. Army, ROTC is involved with a lot of community events and service as well. ROTC color guard for Veterans Day, Hot Air Fair, UWRF Homecoming Parade and football games for UWRF.

ROTC also organizes community clean ups at the surrounding parks in which they train. ROTC cleans up Glen Park, Hoffman Park in River Falls and Willow River State Park in Hudson.

With these community events and extra curricular activities that ROTC students participate in, they earn credit for each community service event that they do. These credits go towards their order merit rank in ROTC.

“We are looking for the model citizen,” Berzinger said. “The more points you have, the more well-rounded you become.”

The point system allows the students who excelled in obtaining a high number of points to increase their chances of the career path they want to take. Along with the point system, students are also assessed on their leadership skills while in ROTC.

The Leadership Assessment Report gives the students a report of their progress three times per semester or six times per year of how they are becoming closer to the ultimate goal of a successful leader.

“The essence of leadership is a selfless leader,” said Benzinger.

The main three components that the ideal ROTC candidate should possess are selfless service, an open mind to look at opportunities and lack of long-term goals said Benzinger.

“The ROTC mechanics are the same as any major, but you are learning life lessons outside the classroom,” said Benzinger.

ROTC shows students involved in the program a way to develop skills that will ultimately lead them to be in charge of 30 men once they become officers.

One student, John Griffith, said that ROTC is a closeknit program but it is more laid back then most people would expect.

“You need to make sure you’re known to a leader and what a leader is about,” said Griffith, a sophomore mathematics education major.

Benzinger and Gary Robinson Sgt. First Class Senior Military Instructor both said that it is important for the students to know how critical it is for the students to realize they are in training to be a part of something bigger than them.

“They serve each other,” said Robinson. “Selfless service is key.”