For students with a desire to serve their country – and who also want to obtain a college education – the Reserve Officers Training Corps may be an option worth exploring.

The UND ROTC program offers college students the opportunity to take courses, earn a degree and serve in the military after graduation. High school and college students may apply for scholarships through ROTC to finance their college education.

At UND, along with regular college courses, students take military science courses, with the potential to commission as an officer in the U.S. Army or U.S. Air Force upon graduation.

The UND ROTC program offers students the choice of joining the Air Force ROTC Detachment 610 or the U.S. Army’s Fighting Hawks Battalion.

The UND Army ROTC unit has been molding young men and women into leaders for the U.S. Army since 1928. Students may receive military training and experience without obligation or fees, according to the program’s website.

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“The whole goal is to make you a leader, regardless of where you are in life – whether it’s at home, at church, at your jobs, or full-time Army,” said Chet Carnevale of the UND Army ROTC program. “Regardless of where you’re at, we’re here to teach you how to better handle all situations as a leader.”

Students who would like a job after college can receive an Army commission through the program and become an officer in either the reserves or active duty upon graduation. More than 70% of the U.S. Army’s commissioned officers have gone through an Army ROTC program.

But a student may simply take military science classes, and not be obligated to do anything for the Army, the program’s website states. “(A student can withdraw from a military science class) at any point in the semester, so long as they are not contracted. A student does not have to contract if he or she does not want to.”

The UND Army ROTC students learn to lead others and to handle complex situations. Among a variety of skills, they learn to navigate in a forest using a topographic map and compass, and to fire and qualify with the M16A2 rifle. They also have the opportunity to fly in Army helicopters during field training events.

Emily Meyer, a former UND student majoring in biochemistry and the Honors Program, “originally decided to join the ROTC program because I was really interested in serving my country and I also really wanted to go into college and get a degree first, so UND was the best way for me to do that,” she said in a UND video.

She received a ROTC scholarship, “so I had my entire college career paid for,” Meyer said, noting that the scholarship was the reason for joining, but “there are so many things after that kept me in the program. …”

Another UND Air Force ROTC graduate, Daniel Iwata, said “This ROTC program gives us fantastic practical experience in leadership and how to manage people, how to manage your time. Even if it doesn’t end up being the route you take, ROTC will teach you many many lessons about leadership, about working with other people.”

Since 1952, the Air Force ROTC Detachment 610 has been training outstanding students to become officers; students receive a commission as second lieutenants upon graduation.

Cadets are educated in leadership, Air Force history, careers and physical fitness, and observe where Predator drones are piloted. In addition to flying for the world’s finest air force, they benefit from the wide array of aerospace degrees offered at UND, which allows them to major in a subject directly related to their prospective career field.

Capt. Justin Marks, of the UND Air Force ROTC program, said, “I love what we do here. We make great people better. ... Leaders that are going to take the Air Force into the next generation. So I’m excited about what UND is offering and how Air Force ROTC is able to interface and bring about that dream.”

Inspired students are probably the best testament to the program’s success.

“I would say what makes the UND ROTC program special is the passion that you see amongst the cadets,” Susanna Trombley, a former UND nursing student and Army ROTC cadet, said in a UND video. “You see the passion and the motivation for everything they’re doing, whether we’re taking our PT test or academics, you can just feel the passion among the cadets, and the pride we have in our program, the pride we have for what we’re doing in our organization.

“It’s contagious, and it spreads like wildfire.”