Air Force ROTC provides great opportunities for students

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The University’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps is a great resource for students looking for financial support, discipline and structure, lifelong friends and a multitude of other benefits.

Many of us have heard of the ROTC program before but never really understood what it was all about. So, last semester I decided to join the Air Force ROTC program here, known as Detachment 310, to learn more.

It was a riveting experience, to say the least. The students in Air Force ROTC are some of the most honorable and respectable students on campus. I wasn’t used to being surrounded by this caliber of people. I also wasn’t used to the early morning workouts, military jargon and the Air Force’s customs and courtesies, but all of it eventually grew onto me. Ten-hut!

The cadre are a group of active duty officers and enlisted members who oversee Det. 310, teach classes and mentor cadets. In addition to the exceptional students, the cadre are men and women with years of honorable military service who can provide invaluable life skills.

The Commander, Lt. Col. William Magee, once told me “You don’t have to be here, you get to be here.” This helped me understand the opportunity I had to shape the future I envisioned for myself.

The Air Force also offers partial to full scholarships to qualifying students. In the wake of fee bills looking like extravagant vacation bills and the deterioration of TOPS, this could be an opportunity for students to reach their true potential while serving this country.

And if you’ve already given up on your New Year’s resolution to exercise more, the reflective t-shirts and slick shorts each cadet wears during their 6 a.m. workouts may provide some extra motivation. These workouts were fun. I would often experience more energy throughout the days we worked out compared to the days we didn’t.

I withdrew from the program because of my change in career objectives, but not a day goes by when I don’t think about the valuable lessons I learned from the cadre and my fellow cadets of the greatest fighting force the world has ever known.

Frederick Bell is a 19-year-old mass communication freshman from Greensburg, Louisiana.

I had a chance to catch up with  a couple of friends and current members of Det. 310. Here’s what they had to say.

Writer’s note: These interviews were shortened for conciseness. However, the original intent remains.

Kathleen Dickerson is a psychology senior and cadet lieutenant colonel. I asked her a few questions. Here’s what she had to say:

FB: Why’d you join Air Force ROTC?

KD: Toward the end of my junior year, I realized that I didn’t know what I was going to do when I graduated in a year. I took a good look at my life and noticed that I had a few close friends in the Air Force, and they loved it, so I figured maybe I would like it to. So, I went down to the Military Science Building and signed up for AFROTC.

FB: What do you like about Detachment 310?

KD: The people, for sure. I have experienced such a strong sense of community. During [Physical Training] for example, we see each other at our strongest and at our weakest points, and that instills a lot of trust in one another.

FB: How has Air Force ROTC impacted your life?

KD: Oh, man, where do I start? I can’t even count the ways that ROTC has impacted my life because it has helped me become a much stronger individual. I have realized that I can handle so much more that life throws at me than I thought. I’m definitely a different person than I was two years ago, and I have this program to thank for it.

Dane Ivy is a geography junior and cadet major. I asked him for his perspective. Here’s what he said:

FB: Why’d you join AFROTC?

DI: To develop my leadership and to have the opportunity to make a difference in my troops lives.

FB: What do you like about Det 310?

DI: We are all a big family here with a proud heritage and tradition that we strive to keep alive. There have been so many who have come before us who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It gives me goosebumps and the motivation to keep pushing.

FB: How has AFROTC impacted your life?

DI: The ways AFROTC has impacted my life are how far I can push myself and how to manage time efficiently. It has also enabled me to make lifelong friends. There isn’t a day that I question whether or not I should have joined AFROTC because it was the best decision of my life.

Frederick Bell is a 19-year-old mass communication freshman from Greensburg, Louisiana.

Frederick Bell | @frederickdbell, LSUNow.com