Patriotism, leadership, dedication…ROTC

Anna Hadjitheodosiou

It’s a Tuesday, and there are a few interesting outfits in the clusters of people by the Oreo. Mixed in with the usual madras shorts and Lacoste polos, men and women are in full-on camouflage, khaki and white military garb. The campus suddenly seems more serious and professional.These students are members of the ROTC program, and they are training to be military officers. Furthermore, along with their Core and major requirements, they take classes pertaining to their military field and have to endure grueling physical training.If that sounds difficult, it is. “If I’m not in class, I’m in the library, in the pool or at the gym,” says Navy ROTC senior and political science major David Henwood. “It’s really important to stay in shape both mentally and physically.” And Henwood isn’t the only one who is working hard. As one of the best programs in the country, producing more Navy and Marine Corps officers than any other institution aside from the United States Naval Academy, Villanova NROTC has a decades-long reputation for producing top-notch officers who are not only skilled but driven, courageous and loyal.Although not as renowned as its Navy counterpart, the Army ROTC program is also quite strong. Villanova is a member of a three-way partnership with Widener and West Chester Universities, and while most classes are held at Villanova, Widener is the official host school. Of the 110 students in the battalion, only about 25 are full-time Villanova students. A good number of them, about 25 percent, are women. “Villanova is the biggest producer of nurses in the Army,” Maj. Joseph Kearney, Jr. says. “Of course, our women cover the whole spectrum of specialties. There are also female engineering majors, communication majors and political science majors, just to name a few.”But even when their college years are over, an ROTC student’s responsibility is not. ROTC is not for commitment-phobes, to say the least; these students have an eight-year obligation to the United States government, which they most often choose to carry out with four years of active duty and four years of inactive duty. A student completes one year of vocational training in their job skill. After that, they are sent off on their first assignment, which could be anywhere around the world.Although each student’s reasons for joining are different, there is one theme that is always present: a strong sense of patriotism and a desire to serve one’s country. Along with this, a number of ROTC students also come from military families. Take for example Devon Czarzasty, a sophomore NROTC nursing major. Her twin brother attends the Naval Academy, and her father served in the Navy for many years. This, along with her experiences here at Villanova, has given her a positive outlook.”I’m not treated any differently from the men, and that’s a good thing. NROTC has taught me so much about leadership and about brotherhood and sisterhood.”Junior Army ROTC electrical engineering major Myles Durkin agrees. “There’s so much being involved in ROTC has taught me,” Durkin says. “Leadership – from time management to interactions with others; that’s a big one. Also, the fact that whatever you put into something, that’s exactly what you’ll get out of it. It’s hard to pick just one, because ROTC has helped me develop entirely as a person.”