Package Deal: Scholarship and Management Position
September 10, 2004 8:02 PM
The current state budget woes have left many SF State students wondering how they are going to pay for college. With the dramatic increase in tuition costs, the federal and state loans that serve as a buffer zone to many SF State students are not spreading out as thickly as they did in semesters past.
Relief is available from an entity probably not yet considered by most.
“The program pays my tuition, and I get a $200 stipend every month,” said Kathleen Booth, a junior nursing student, during a recent physical training session. “But it’s more than that. I’m learning to become a leader.”
Besides paying for college, the Army ROTC program affords the students leadership training and experience that prepares them to become commissioned Army officers upon college graduation. As a Second Lieutenant, the officer position is equated to that of a corporate manager. She or he will be expected to lead, manage, counsel and motivate other enlisted soldiers.
“I develop leaders,” said Lieutenant Colonel Scott Donaldson, commander of the cadets, as he surveyed the ROTC students weekly physical training session at University of San Francisco Fitness Center. “That is my sole responsibility and I take it very seriously.”
The ROTC classes are electives that students take in conjunction with their regular college courses. This means they remain civilians while they earn their degrees. It is also a good opportunity for those who are not 100 percent ready to leave home right away, to ease themselves into the Army lifestyle.
“This program is completely voluntary,” said Lt. Colonel Donaldson, who is a former West Point baseball recruit. “If they decide to leave the program prior to graduation, we don’t force them to stay. ”
According to Lt. Colonel Donaldson, the cadets have the luxury of choosing to either go Active Duty or into the Reserves. He said that although it is highly competitive, the current trend is opting for Active Duty.
“Right now, there is a big demand for nurses," said Lt. Colonel Donaldson. "After graduation they immediately get assigned to an entire ward or platoon, so the span of responsibility is far greater than that of a civilian nurse. There is also a big demand for business majors in the Army ROTC, who go on to careers in air defense, aviation, engineering, intelligence, finance and ordnance.”
As Army ROTC cadets, the students cannot be activated or deployed, so they do not have to worry about being shipped off to a military installation in the middle of a semester, which takes a lot of pressure off of them while attending SF State.
“They can’t touch me until I graduate,” said Douglas Gist, a graphic communications student who recently transferred to SF State from Korea, where he served as an interrogator.
Another SF State student, who wished not to have her name printed, was weeks away from being sent to Iraq before she decided to join the Army ROTC.
“The ROTC program saved me,” she said. “I was already in the Army as an enlisted person and was notified that I’d be getting orders to go to Iraq. I told my commander that I was thinking of joining the ROTC program to become an officer. He said, ‘If they sign you before we send your orders, that’s fine.’ Needless to say, I worked hard to get all of my paperwork done fast.”
The Army ROTC has another function, that of sorority or fraternity, that is important to a lot of college students.
“It gives us a group to associate with,” said Lindsay Wild, a nursing major. “We motivate and encourage each other. We learn self-discipline, which carries over into all aspects of life. So you end up setting higher standards for yourself.”
As an added benefit to fulfilling the ROTC commitment, the Army offers their officers assistance with job placement after their term of service. Although some Soldiers spend a life-long career in the Army, others chose not to re-enlist after their initial four or six year commitment. Through the Partnership for Youth Success Program, Soldiers are granted priority consideration at many Fortune 500 companies all over the country.
“I love the Army for all of the many opportunities it offers,” said cadet Sam Rafael.
For more information about ROTC classes, click here.
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