Franciscan’s ROTC program


We’ve seen them in our classes dressed in Army fatigues. They are members of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). These men and women are part of a college-based program for training commissioned officers of the U.S. Armed Forces.

“The Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) is designed to teach cadets the basics of how to be an officer,” said Mark Fox, a member of the Three Rivers Battalion, Foxtrot Company through the University of Pittsburgh and a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville. “We learn battle drills, drill and ceremony, and other things that help us gain a foundation as to what we’re getting ourselves into.” ROTC has class once a week, with PT [physical training] three times a week, and a Leadership Lab once a week, which gives cadets hands on experience with the specific battle drills and movement.

“Everything in the Army has a very specific way of doing things, and that is what we are learning,” said Fox.

“The program entails lots of personal discipline and physical fitness,” said Matthew Van Wagenen, a junior in Air Force ROTC detachment 730 at the University of Pittsburgh.

Franciscan does both Army and Air Force ROTC program through the University of Pittsburgh as a “cross-town” affiliate.

Van Wagenen said that every week there are several days of training, including Leadership Laboratory, physical training and aerospace studies. Senior Don Rooney, a member of Army ROTC, has been in the program since he was a freshman. He said that being in ROTC “involves learning how to be a leader and an Army officer. We also have training over some summers. We train for our future careers as Army officers.”

“I love the military and am excited to serve my country full-time in the Air Force after college,” Van Wagenen said.

Rooney said, “I have two favorite things about ROTC; the first is the ability to serve God and country by learning to be an Army officer. The second best is the brotherhood and friendship. My two best friends are the guys I’ve been doing this with since freshman year.”

“I would say my favorite thing about ROTC is that I get to serve God and country, which instills in me a certain pride,” said Fox. “It is truly an honor to be going into the Army to lead soldiers in defense of this country’s freedom.”

The ROTC program is not without its challenges. Fox said, “The hardest part about it is probably waking up almost every morning for the past three and a half years while trying to lead a normal college life. It’s very hard to allot enough time for everything and everyone, especially when you have schoolwork to put on top of that.” Rooney added that some challenges were the early mornings and balancing the amount of time that ROTC takes and being a Franciscan student.

Although the program is challenging, according to Van Wagenen, the values and experience gained from participating in the program are invaluable and he would highly recommend it to anyone willing to serve their God and country.

“It’s not easy, and it’s certainly not for everyone who shows up to the program,” said Rooney. “However, if you have what it takes, it’s a rewarding career.”

“If you are serious about ROTC, don’t think that it is the end of the world if you don’t like it,” said Fox. “The Army is not for everyone. Regardless, it is a great opportunity to get exposed to the military and experience a taste of the big Army.”

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