For many students, K-State’s strong feeling of family bleeds over into many different organizations on campus, including ROTC.
“There is a huge family aspect (in ROTC),” Renee Douglas, junior in mass communications, said. “It’s kind of like that K-State family atmosphere carries over into ROTC.”
The perception of ROTC as a family is not common outside of the programs’ participants. Douglas admitted that, before entering the program, and said she believed the stereotype that ROTC members were unfriendly and robot-like. After her experience, however, she said that is far from the truth.
“My worry going into the program (was) that people were going to be super serious,” Douglas said. “But I’ve made pretty good friends with a lot of people.”
Tate Nystrom, sophomore in business administration, agreed that the members of ROTC was one of his favorite things about the program.
“The people are what makes the experience the best,” Nystrom said. “I’ve met so many great friends in ROTC that I probably what have never met if I didn’t join.”
Students involved in ROTC are not the only people that help make the programs’ environment enjoyable; staff and professors are also a big part of the development of these students as both future Air Force and Navy officers and as people in general.
“We have a great cadre, which is ROTC staff and professors,” Nystrom said. “(They) really care about you and (want) you (to) achieve the ultimate goal of commissioning as an officer.”
Balancing these pressures of training with a social life and school work is stressful for members of ROTC. Whether it’s waking up at 5 a.m. for a 5K run or turning homework in on time, these students work hard to get it all done.
“It takes up a lot of my time,” Nystrom said. “ROTC allows me to commission as an officer and still experience the college life.”
Jerrad Gillen, sophomore in sociology, said fitting everything in was difficult, but if you make sure school and ROTC take priority over most other things, then you will be all right.
While training, and balancing ROTC with academics and other activities may seem hard, it’s part of the appeal for many.
“(It) is a tough challenge in general,” Nystrom said. “But I think that’s why many of the cadets are here.”
With all their hard work, however, there are still misconceptions about what ROTC is and who these people are. The most common mistake is that outsiders do not recognize that there are two sections to ROTC: Army and Air Force.
“Theres a huge difference between Air Force and Army, especially the different training that we do,” Douglas said.
In both fields of training, the hours and tasks are stressful and demand a lot from each student.
“Waking up at 5 in the morning three days a weeks sucks,” Gillen said. “But, at the end of the day, I still feel good about it.”
Whether students train for the Army or the Air Force, many draw on their passion and people in their lives who have inspired them in order to meet their goals.
“I grew up hearing stories about my father’s career in the military and I knew I wanted to be a part of that lifestyle,” Gillen said. “We get the opportunity to not only save lives, but also to defend a nation.”