An early breakfast of push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run is just what some students need to start off the day.
On Wednesday, Sept. 3, Temple’s Army ROTC students made their way to Geasey Field for the first physical training session of the semester. The university’s ROTC program currently has 85 student cadets, 55 of whom are on scholarships to become commissioned officers after graduation.
“When you get a chance to serve your country and go to school, it really doesn’t get any better than that,” said Cadet Jarrett Buchanan, a junior criminal justice major.
Buchanan is on a three-year scholarship with the ROTC program, which includes full tuition, a $600 book stipend each semester and a $450 monthly stipend.
ROTC students have physical training three mornings a week. Training is followed by military science classes and military science lab. The program also participates in the “Rangers Challenge,” a competition in which schools compete with each other completing military tasks.
Aside from participating in field training exercises, cadets are active on campus and often interact with other students.
“ROTC is a challenge, it’s not the ordinary college life,” said Cadet Joseph Diberardinis, a freshman construction management technology major. “Outside of ROTC I play lacrosse for Temple, I go to the gym a lot and I party maybe a little too much.”
For Cadet Erna Jablonski, balancing a social life is easy.
“I play Guitar Hero, take my German shepherd for walks and I’m always hanging out with my friends,” the senior psychology major said.
A standard uniform is mandated for ROTC students. They are required to wear a gray shirt and black shorts with the word ARMY emblazoned across the front in reflective letters to training. Students must also wear Army Combat Uniform to military science classes.
“When I wear my ACUs little kids will come up and salute you and many people will thank you for your services,” Jablonski said.
Although most reactions from onlookers are positive, ROTC students sometimes experience negative feedback from some students and professors at the university.
“I remember being a freshman cadet and coming into my political science class and having my teacher say ‘I notice you are wearing your costume today,’” said senior Samantha Henry, a senior elementary education major. “I was dumbfounded that he could say something like that to insult people.”
“People will stare and sometimes give you bad or nasty looks or try to act really tough when they see us in our ACUs,” said Lieutenant Dustin Donofry, a recent Temple alumnus.
Temple offers freshman and sophomore cadets a $500 incentive, with no obligation to sign a contract, for enrolling in Military Science 101 or 102. The military science department has five full-time faculty members, all of whom are army officers.
Major William Griffin, assistant professor of military science and the battalion enrollment officer for Temple, said he helps cadets feel comfortable with themselves and assists them in overcoming fears and weakness.
“I’ve been all around the world so I have a lot of life experience and I try to impart as much knowledge to the cadets as possible,” Griffin said.
The ROTC program’s motto “Subway Warriors Lead the Way,” symbolizes the commute that many Temple students make to campus on a daily basis and the commitment of ROTC students to be good warrior citizens and great leaders at Temple and in the community.
“We’re a little island of the Army at Temple University, so we’re required to meet basic Army requirements to commission second lieutenants into the Army, but we also have to meet all of the requirements of the university to make sure these kids graduate with their desired academic degree,” said Lt. Col. Paul Wiley, professor in the military science department.
ROTC students are required to maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA to qualify for a scholarship and a 2.0 to participate in the program. In addition to academic requirements, students must also pass a rigorous medical and physical exam.
“Being in the ROTC gives you an opportunity to be a normal college student and be in the city and have fun,” Buchanan said.
“You’re getting your degree and you’re going to have a guaranteed good paying job when you get out of college, so it’s a great thing.”
Kelly Fields can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.