By Jessica Stark
The sun is shining, the breeze is blowing and the helicopter is landing. Army ROTC students recently boarded Blackhawk helicopters for a weekend training exercise at Camp Dawson in West Virginia, just another leadership lab for the cadets.
The leadership labs are just one reason that Ohio University's ROTC program is ranked 30th nationwide and first among colleges and universities in Ohio, according to the latest annual rating published by the U.S. Army's Cadet Command, Fort Monroe, Va. Both Training Operations Officer Tony Eaglowski and Lt. Col. Doug Orr said they expect to see Ohio University's ROTC program ranked even higher because of the high performance level of this year's cadets.
"Our senior class this year is very strong and are taking the program to the next level. They'll help us breed even better leaders from the underclassmen," said Eaglowski. He said that the cadets were also recently evaluated on their physical training and all cadets were above average, resulting in the program ranking fourth of 270 programs in physical fitness.
Eaglowski said Ohio University has a part in that high ranking because of the atmosphere it provides. He said, "Ohio University is very team oriented. We may not have all the facilities necessary to do all the things we need to do, but Ohio University helps provide us with what we need. We didn't have an area for the helicopter to land, so we talked to people in the intramural office and they let us use their fields."
Cadet Eric Elliot said Ohio University is a good place for the ROTC program because both are concerned about their students. "Ohio University and ROTC are focused on the benefits for students. They want what's best for us."
The ROTC program reaches out to others on campus. For example, they've worked with the Ohio University basketball team to help players develop leadership characteristics and teamwork goals. "ROTC offers leadership training for all areas of life," Eaglowski said.
Of the 100 cadets of this year's ROTC program, about 60 cadets re fully committed to becoming Army officers and others take the Military Science classes for credit but do not attend leadership labs or physical training. Thirty-five cadets have earned full tuition Army ROTC scholarships and 10 cadets have their tuition paid by the Army National Guard.
Many professional opportunities await ROTC students upon graduation. There are 16 branches of the military from which to choose. Last year's graduating seniors entered a wide variety of Army career fields such as Armor, Infantry, Military Intelligence, Signal (Communications) and Transportation.
After military service, cadets can explore further career paths. Orr said, "Many corporations actively recruit military personnel for leadership positions because of the training and background they have. Being responsible for the well being of 30 of your comrades is pretty good preparation for a job in personnel management."
Jessica Stark is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.