For students enrolled in Temple University’s Army ROTC program, a normal day involves classes, physical training and leadership labs.
Army ROTC, or the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, is a leadership training program that prepares college students for military service. Students enrolled in the program are trained to become officers, specifically second lieutenants, for the United States Army while simultaneously pursuing a degree of their choice.
ROTC cadets wake up early on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to go to physical training from 6:30 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. They also attend military science classes during the week and leadership labs where they are trained in navigation, using weapons and administering first aid.
Although it can seem like a commitment, getting involved in the ROTC program can be as easy as signing up for a class, said Isaiah Taylor, a senior political science and economics major.
“ROTC is actually an offered class at Temple that literally any student could sign up for,” Taylor said. “Now, to stay in the program, you have to meet certain qualifications. Obviously, the goal of ROTC is to commission officers into the United States Army. So you do need to be able to pass some physical tests, but you have time to work toward that.”
Jackie Hankins-Kent, the vice provost for Undergraduate Studies in Military Science, said 138 students are enrolled in the program this year. Cadets must be full-time students and maintain at least a 2.0 GPA to stay in the program. Upon graduation, she said students can serve as an active-duty, reserve or National Guard officer.
Taylor is the Cadet S-3 for Temple’s ROTC, which means he is responsible for planning operations. Students in the program can work their way up the ranks. Freshmen begin as MS-1s, or “team members,” sophomores are MS-2s, and so on.
For Kevin Foster, a senior entrepreneurship and innovation management major, being a part of the program means honoring his family’s history. His grandfather was a cadet at Temple who joined the Army in 1970.
“A lot of my family’s gone to Temple, so I kind of wanted to follow in my grandpa’s footsteps,” Foster said. “And I’ll actually be commissioning in May, right around the 50 year anniversary of him commissioning as a second lieutenant in the Army, so that was my big motivation.”
Students enrolled in the ROTC program are eligible for exclusive benefits and scholarships.
Cadets can compete for numerous scholarships on the local and national level and be awarded tuition money and stipends to cover books, housing and other necessities, according to the Undergraduate Studies in Military Science’s website.
“From the start it really gave me a really great support system. You meet a lot of good people through the program and you can really rely on each other,” Foster said. “I think a lot of people show up and maybe have trouble socializing and making friends, but for me it definitely changed my college experience as far as friends.”
Lt. Grant Bernard, a 2019 ROTC geography and urban studies alumnus, spent five months on active duty and is now participating in the Hometown Recruiter Assistance Program to recruit prospective students.
“It’s taught me a lot about confidence,” Bernard said. “I was a fairly shy guy in high school. Getting up in front of 40 people and leading them is the biggest thing that it really helps you with.”