By: Madison Thompson
FORT KNOX, Ky. – Centers of Influence attended a Cadet Panel at Fort Knox, Ky., during the Summer of Fort Knox Visit, June 14. Here, COI had the opportunity to ask Cadets questions about Cadet Summer Training, Cadets’ experiences and about the Army ROTC program.
The six Cadets on the panel included:
- Daniel Ijibamigbe, Kansas State University, Houston, Texas
- Zachary Beck, Capital University, Flushing, Ohio
- Ashia Bales, American University, Upland, California
- Amanda Tetreault, California Baptist University, Alabama
- Joelle Pond, Virginia Tech, Suffolk, Virginia
- Cal Ballou, Kansas State University, Albuquerque, New Mexico
The panel opened with Col. Lance Oskey, commander of the 7th Brigade, asking Cadets about what motivated them about staying in the Army ROTC program throughout their four years of college. Cadets on the panel had an array of responses.
“Sticking with it has been great. It’s allowed me to stay motivated with a common goal,” said Ballou.
“It’s the challenge of ROTC as well as handling academics … It challenges me to be a better person, not just for myself but for my community,” said Pond.
“ROTC has provided me with the opportunity to bring much back to my university,” said Ijibamigbe.
After this question, Oskey explained to the COI that many Cadets have part-time jobs as well as their course work and commitment to the Army ROTC program. He spoke about the options and opportunities that Army ROTC affords Cadets and the work-life balance that exists. Time management is key for Cadets.
Oskey also spoke about what is offered to Cadets in terms of tuition and scholarships available.
“The Cadets receive a scholarship. It’s either for tuition or room and board, unlike Cadets who go to one of our military academies where everything is paid for including a stipend … Because our Cadets are so diverse and our campuses are so diverse and, because our scholarships are limited in that manner, that’s usually the number one topic of discussion,” said Oskey. “If your PMS hasn’t already provided it or if your school hasn’t already provided it, it’s one that’s usually hugely beneficial to the Cadets.”
Cadet Bales agreed that having tuition, room and board provided helped her through college.
“For me, that was pivotal. Because I wasn’t able to afford an apartment outside of the university because our housing was already on base but it was two hours away. For me, this gave me the opportunity to be able to be at school Monday through Friday and not be commuting two hours back and forth. So, it helped me out a lot,” said Bales.
The panel moved forward with the topics of discussion.
“ROTC is known as a place where we develop leaders,” said Oskey before asking the Cadets how ROTC has made them better leaders.
“For me, it would be communicating with others to become a better leader. Last summer, I was provided the opportunity by ROTC to go to the Dominican Republic for a CULP program and I believe that helped me because I got to experience other militaries and how they worked and how our military interacts with them. So, I believe that the Army has given me a great opportunity to develop my cultural understanding as well as my communication with others to become a better leader,” said Pond.
The partnership between the universities and colleges, COI and Cadets is essential for many reasons. For Cadets to become 2nd lieutenants, they must earn a bachelor’s degree. The Cadets in the panel answered the pertinent question of how ROTC has made them better students.
“It’s provided me peers who are on the same track as me. They want to do well in school … so you’re organizing your time and you’re waking up early together and that actually set me up to be more disciplined while in college and setting me on the right track,” said Tetreault.
After the Cadet panel, one of the COIs spoke about what they took away from the Summer of Fort Knox Visit.
“I learned two main things. I learned that we have some amazing men and women who are deciding that they are going to undergo this leadership and character development training with ROTC and that we have some of the best folks who are willing to, at least, begin their training to serve our nation in whatever capacity they desire,” said Dr. Shonda Allen, Associate Director of the Interdisciplinary Nanotoxicity Center at Jackson State, Mississippi. “I also learned that I need to work on time management skills because these guys have an amazing schedule and they have to really manage their time wisely.”
She also spoke about something she was not aware of before her visit.
“I did not know that a bulk of our ROTC Cadets, particularly in our state, actually work for our state. I underestimated the number of people who serve our National Guard and our army reserve,” said Allen.
With information and knowledge about Cadets and the Army ROTC program, COIs will return to their homes and universities to spread the word about the options and opportunities available through Army ROTC.