ROTC trains for life

By Kevin Wick

While most NIU students are still sleeping, Joe Emanuelson is training to fight.

Emanuelson, a freshman enrolled in the ROTC program, is up at 6:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for physical training, which is just one of the daily activities the cadets go through.

In addition to these morning workouts, the ROTC program consists of 28 semester hours of military science classes and live-action training. During the student’s freshman and sophomore years, there is no military obligation and they are encouraged to find out more about the program before they commit.

Emanuelson, a nursing major, is attending NIU via a four-year ROTC scholarship that he applied for in high school. The program chooses its candidates for this scholarship based on academics, athleticism and leadership.

Before going into the program, Emanuelson said he thought it would be a unique experience that would teach him a lot about leadership.

“I always wanted to be in the Army,” he said.

One thing he said he wanted to take from his time in the program was the ability to influence others in a positive way.

Emanuelson added that one of the biggest perks of the ROTC program is the team building activities. He said the Army is one of the biggest teams anyone can be a part of.

Virginia Mason, an undecided freshman, also enrolled in the ROTC program. She joined the national guard in high school and wanted to take her experience a step further. So before coming to NIU, Mason enlisted in the Army.

“I want to make a career of being in the Army and I want to become an officer,” Mason said.

Mason said she did not have many expectations other than gaining leadership, but said that since she started she has learned to work with others as a team.

She lives on an ROTC residence hall floor, which she says is an advantage because it gives her an opportunity to interact with students who have more in common with her.

Mason said the program opens up more opportunities for a career, and during the time enrolled in the program, cadets become close with the people they train with.

While enrolled in the program, the cadets attend weekend field training in various locations in the Midwest area. The field training consists of physical activities, team building activities and live training.

From Oct. 22 to 24 the cadets will travel to Ft. McCoy, Wisconsin for ranger team training. Ranger team training matches NIU’s ROTC program against other area universitys’ programs in live-action training.

Capt. Dale Burbank, NIU’s ROTC enrollment officer, said many students hesitate to join the ROTC because they believe it automatically enters them into the military, which Burbank said is not true.

“The ROTC program is not designed to enter students into the military – it gives students who have an interest in the military an opportunity to check things out,” Burbank said.

He said the military science classes taken while in the program teach better leadership and give students the tools to help them do better later on in life. If the students find they do not want to join the military, they can use the classes they took as college electives, he said.

ROTC Quick Facts

ROTC stands for “Reserve Officer Training Corps.”

Training is in organization, motivation and leadership.

Includes 28 semester hours of military science classes

First two years – no military obligation

Last two years – cadets receive $150 per month during school year.

Two four-year, full-tuition, scholarships are given each year.

Scholarships cover books, lab fees and other expenses.

Scholarship recipients given $150 tax-free monthly subsistence allowance for 10 months.

Must be at least 17 to enroll.

Must complete degree prior to turning 30.