ROTC offers financial aid, opportunities

By Amy Ross

For some students, the military conjures up images of guns, blood and war. However, most students are not aware of the positive aspects the military offers to any college students.

This is the second year NIU is offering students an opportunity to take part in their Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program on the NIU campus.

Most students are not aware of all the benefits the ROTC has to offer, said Kurt West, sophomore computer science major. The Air Force has jobs for all types of majors, including health practitions, computer science and media and public affairs. In addition, the ROTC offers excellent financial aid advantages.

“The key things you get out of being in the ROTC is communication and personal skills in dealing with managing people. You learn how to get things accomplished in any organization of people,” West said.

The ROTC offers three different types of scholarships. The first is the Federal Scholarship which only applies to computer science and engineering majors. It includes tuition, fees, books and $100 a month for spending money if agreed to serve four years in the air force after graduation.

The second scholarship is the State Tuition Waiver, which is open to all majors and covers two years of tuition without an obligation to serve in the military after graduation.

Finally, the Express Scholarship is open to sophomores and juniors and covers tuition, fees, books and $100 a month for spending money. Students eligible for this include minority students in any major and non-minority students in nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, English and math and computer science.

“The goal of the ROTC is to train America’s future leaders. You learn a lot in our classes about how to do that,” said Marc Mar-Yohana, junior mechanical engineering major.

NIU’s ROTC offers four levels of classes. The underclassman classes, which meet one day a month for three hours, include the history of the air force and leadership traits.

“The emphasis changes in upperclassman classes and focuses on how a leader interacts with subordinates and how to analyze different leadership traits,” Mar-Yohana said. These classes meet once a week for three hours.

In addition, everyone from all classes meet once a week for three hours to participate in Lead Lab, which is entirely run by the cadets.

“This is an environment to practice what you have learned in class,” Mar-Yohana said.

Lead Labs also are held once a month at the Illinois Institute of Technology, which is Air Force Headquarters. ROTC students from all over the Chicagoland area come together to practice their management and leadership skills.

The ROTC program also participates in volunteer work for Hope Haven, a homeless shelter and AMVETS, where they provide the color guard for funeral services.

There also are marching sessions, flag retreats and sports activities, like walleyball, to build the team.

“Nothing except the classes are mandatory and you are free to put in as much or as little time as you want, but like anything else, what you get out of it is representative of what you put into it,” West said.

“Even if you don’t want to be in the military, this represents a great opportunity for NIU students. Students can get financial assistance, leadership and career training. To me, a lot of people are missing out by not taking advantage of this program,” he said.

For more information call (312) 567-3525.

“The goal of the ROTC is to train America’s future leaders. You learn a lot in our classes about how to do that.”