RU ROTC Enrolls Its Largest Cadet Class
The 2012-13 academic year is already a record-breaker for Radford University ROTC. The corps enrolled the most cadets and the most freshman cadets in its history. "I'm ridiculously proud," said Capt. Chris Blanc, RU ROTC's scholarship and enrollment officer. "I am beyond proud and pleased."
ROTC—the Reserve Officers' Training Corps—is a college-based program for training commissioned officers of the United States armed forces. RU ROTC enrolled 115 cadets for the new academic year, a 10 percent increase from last year. Freshman enrollment is a record-breaking 56 cadets, up from 50 last year.
"We just had our first PT (physical training) test this morning with 115 cadets in formation, calling cadence, and it was one of the best-organized runs I've seen in a long time," Blanc said.
The cadets in this year's corps are highly qualified and well rounded, Blanc said. "We really focus on the best-qualified applicants, not just qualified applicants. We're trying to recruit the next generation of teacher-leaders." The program's growing popularity is due in part to a changing perception about what it means to serve in the military. "We really do push education and excellence, and it is a Type-A personality organization."
Commissioned five years ago, Blanc has extensive experience that includes a deployment in Iraq. He views himself as a mentor to the cadets, providing insight, guidance and leadership.
"I was a cadet myself not too long ago, and the job we're training for, I also did it four years ago," he said. "I know how they're feeling, what they're worried about, and I know what struggles they have."
ROTC offers scholarship opportunities that may initially spark a student's interest, Blanc said, but the lasting benefits go far beyond finances. "Even if you do four years as a means to pay for school and decide to get out after your initial contract, the leadership and management opportunities are tremendous," he said. "Your average second lieutenant in the United States Army, which is what we train these cadets to be, is going to be leading anywhere from 16 to 33 soldiers and responsible for $15 million to $20 million worth of equipment."
Commissioned second lieutenant ROTC officers can quickly rise through the ranks to company commander, Blanc said, where they would be in charge of as many as 133 soldiers and oversee as much as $100 million worth of equipment.
"You can't touch that type of experience," he said. "We promote on potential, not on performance, so you'll have people in different positions in the civilian world who have been doing it for 15 or 20 years who are finally at the same point where this brand-new second lieutenant is."