As Nov. 17 approaches, the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) has big plans for the upcoming game between the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University.
Just one of the many events the organization is planning this semester, ROTC cadets will run a football from the DakotaDome to Brookings for a total of 132 miles in a shared program with SDSU’s ROTC program. However, there is more to running that makes up ROTC.
ROTC is a program with the United States Army that trains and develops students to be Army officers, as well as leaders in their community.
“It’s a conglomeration of students who come together to become leaders and learn army camaraderie,” senior Ryan Bartholomaus said. “We take the things we learn in class and take that to the real world where we can be leaders instead of just managers.”
While some may know about the basic concept of ROTC, Captain Dave Larson said that a part many people don’t realize about ROTC is what officers do in the military.
“I like to explain it like a school system,” Larson said. “You have your brand new students who are privates in basic training, you have your teachers who are non-commissioned officers and then you have your administrators which are officers, and that is what we’re teaching them to be, basically.”
For Bartholomaus, ROTC was an option that provided specific skill training he hadn’t acquired yet.
“Because I was previously in the military, I was looking for more leadership skills and the ability to become a better leader,” he said. “As in my senior year, I have learned a lot over the years.”
There are a variety of leadership opportunities for the cadets. According to Major Ross Nelson, professor of military science, three cadets were able to go on international exchanges this past year, and others participated in various training opportunities. Part of the leadership skills earned is through leading their peers during the school year.
“We let the seniors plan and run the training for the underclassmen,” Nelson said.
Time management is another skill cadets learn, particularly when managing how to balance school and ROTC responsibilities. Cadets have physical training exercises three times a week before 7 a.m., and upperclassmen must find time between classes to complete the rest of their duties. Once a month, cadets also take part in leadership labs that prepare them for the Leadership Development Assessment Course (LDAC), which is one of the ways cadets are evaluated on what they’ve learned.
“I give the cadets a lot of credit,” Larson said, who is responsible for day-to-day operations. “Being college students, we put a lot of time constraints on them and they’re very busy besides just their normal academics.”
However, Nelson stressed that the cadets are students first.
“Their number one priority is to graduate college, they have to have a degree to get commissioned,” Nelson said. “We try not to interfere a whole lot with
The program provides a variety of financial and leadership benefits for students. Nelson said that while the program requires some time commitment, stipends or scholarships are given to students to help them with school.
Bartholomaus said that the monetary benefits were great, but the lessons learned from the program were significant in teaching cadets how to be themselves.
“It helps me grow as a leader, figure out who I am, what I need to do in order to become a better leader,” Bartholomaus said. “They give you the tools. They don’t tell you exactly what to do, because each person has their own leadership style.”
The ROTC program is also hosting a Costume 5K walk/run Oct. 31 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Prentis Park. The cost is $10 and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Wounded Warrior Foundation, and awards will be given for best costume and winners of the race.